Nav: Home

What should be the role of computer games in education?

January 12, 2016

Los Angeles, CA (January 12, 2016) Game advocates are calling for a sweeping transformation of conventional education to replace traditional curricula with game-based instruction. But what do researchers have to say about this idea and what is the role of policymakers? A new study out today discourages an educational revolution based on gaming and encourages adding promising features to games in schools including heightened use of explanative feedback in games and relevant pregame activities. This article is part of a new issue of Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences (PIBBS), a Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) journal published by SAGE.

Researcher Richard E. Mayer surveyed research on game features that improve learning. He found five game features that substantially improve student performance including:
  • Putting words in conversational style rather than formal style

  • Putting words in spoken form rather than printed form

  • Adding prompts to explain key points in the game

  • Adding advice or explanations at key points in the game

  • Adding pregame activities that describe key components of the game

Mayer also discussed the extent that gaming improves cognitive skills. He found two types of games that lead to substantial improvements in specific cognitive skills: first person shooter games and spatial puzzle games (such as Tetris). However, he did not find substantial evidence that any other games improve cognitive skills nor that any games improve reasoning or memory skills.

"Overall, cognitive consequences research does not support claims for broad transfer of game playing to performance on cognitive skill tests," Mayer wrote. "That is, no sufficient evidence supports the claim that playing computer games can improve one's mind in general."

However, Mayer did find that when teaching science, game can be more effective teaching tool than traditional media such as books and slideshow presentations.

Mayer discussed the implications of this research for policymakers, claiming that there is a place for small games that focus on well-specified learning objectives, become more challenging as students learn, and fit within existing educational programs to supplement, complement, and/or extend traditional instruction rather than replace it. He also cautioned against supporting video games simply because students like them as liking does not necessarily translate into learning.

"The major policy implication of this review of research on games for learning is that it is premature to call for a major overhaul of schools based on computer games: The research certainly does not warrant extensive replacement of current educational practices with practices based on computer games," Mayer concluded.
-end-
Find out more by reading the full article, "What should be the role of computer games in education?" in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. For an embargoed copy of the full text, please email camille.gamboa@sagepub.com.

Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 900 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company's continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. http://www.sagepublishing.com

Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences is an annual publication of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS) that presents original research and scientific reviews relevant to public policy. This annual will allow scientists to share research that can help build sound policies, allow policymakers to provide feedback to the scientific community regarding research that could address societal challenges, and encourage the scientific community to build models that seriously consider implementation to address the needs of society. http://bbs.sagepub.com/

Contact: (US) Camille Gamboa Camille.gamboa@sagepub.com / Tel: 805-410-7441

(UK) Katie Baker katie.baker@sagepub.co.uk / Tel: +44 (0)20 7324 8719

SAGE

Related Learning Articles:

School spending cuts triggered by great recession linked to sizable learning losses for learning losses for students in hardest hit areas
Substantial school spending cuts triggered by the Great Recession were associated with sizable losses in academic achievement for students living in counties most affected by the economic downturn, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.
Lessons in learning
A new Harvard study shows that, though students felt like they learned more from traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms.
Learning to look
A team led by JGI scientists has overhauled the perception of inovirus diversity.
Sleep readies synapses for learning
Synapses in the hippocampus are larger and stronger after sleep deprivation, according to new research in mice published in JNeurosci.
Learning from experience is all in the timing
Animals learn the hard way which sights, sounds, and smells are relevant to survival.
Learning language
When it comes to learning a language, the left side of the brain has traditionally been considered the hub of language processing.
When it comes to learning, what's better: The carrot or the stick?
Does the potential to win or lose money influence the confidence one has in one's own decisions?
Learning a second alphabet for a first language
A part of the brain that maps letters to sounds can acquire a second, visually distinct alphabet for the same language, according to a study of English speakers published in eNeuro.
Learning to read comes at a cost
Learning how to read may have some disadvantages for learning grammar.
Heartbeat paces learning
The processing of external information varies during the phases of the cardiac cycle, shows a new study from the University of Jyväskylä.
More Learning News and Learning Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.