Game based learning is where Vygotsky meets Dweck.
Lev Vygotsky coined the term zone of proximal development. This is the sweet spot for learning; it’s the area between what a person can do without help, and what they can only accomplish with help. These are the skills that a person can develop with guidance, persistence, and encouragement.
Carol Dweck is the Columbia and now Stanford professor who wrote Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dr. Dweck pioneered the growth mindset paradigm, where individuals view themselves as evolving, and therefore persist and iterate in order to increase their proficiencies and abilities.
Research suggests that video games offer a synthesis of both a growth mindset and zones of proximal development. There are over 180 million active gamers in the US and the average gamer spends 13 hours a week playing games. Given that 99% of boys, 94% of girls, and 62% of teachers play video games, isn’t it a relief knowing that they may actually be learning?
In Playful Learning: An Integrated Design Framework, Plass, Homer, and Kinzer point out that successful games tend to aim toward a player’s zone of proximal development, where a player can succeed, but only through effort and some struggle. Games therefore have to measure player skill, and then provide an appropriate response (feedback, consequences, next actions) based on that information.
Games need to allow for graceful failure; game designers embed failure into the game mechanics without a lot high-stakes negative consequence to encourage balanced risk taking and exploration.
Games are complex problems waiting to be solved in a way that is both fun and challenging. Kris Mueller, an eighth grade teacher writing for Edutopia, wrote: “A well-designed game leads players through carefully-leveled tasks that prepare them to succeed in bigger challenges.” What do we learn when we are put into situations that require us to solve problems while having fun and being challenged?
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Paul B Silverman says
Thanks for interesting article. While your focus is K-12, many of your findings apply to both university level and corporate/executive training as well. My observations are based on corporate and entrepreneurial management experience, serving as an adjunct professor for 12 years at three leading universities, and being directly involved in both online K-12 and educational gaming ventures several years ago.
I am pleased to share several comments:
1. Game based learning changes thinking and improves creativity as you noted. As an example, using Harvard Business School case reviews to reinforce complex business concepts is the traditional approach used in business schools. If you couple these with a simulation game, for example, which lets students establish product mix and pricing strategies to maximize profits and EPS, you see real benefits. The key point here – the case studies and the gaming alone provide benefits but working together provides greater benefits, i.e., the ” 1 + 1 = 3″ situation. We are changing student ‘thinking’ here
2. The optimum solution is as you noted to integrate educational gaming with other forms of instruction as you noted. But the challenge is both creating strong content such as noted above and developing the proper mix of time and resources. I am looking at this challenge now to structure both traditional and ‘gaming’ courseware for educating entrepreneurs ( including possibly K-12 level).
3. We need to educate decision and policy makers on the benefits of educational gaming. On the one hand, many are emphasizing the need for increased social interaction and reducing ‘screen time’- educational gaming and electronic courseware moves in the opposite direction. Creative educational gaming requiring some social interaction (such as integrating teaming an approach I am looking at in entrepreneurial courseware) appears to be an effective solution and there may be others.
4. Decision and policy makers also have to be comfortable moving to electronic media and educational gaming. This is changing and the work of your group and other is helping, but as we know, despite looking at a classroom filled with student I-pads, many instructors and decision makers are still ‘clinging to textbooks.’
Bottom line here – educational gaming is still in its infancy – very exciting, high growth area that can in my view fuel significant improvement in our K-12 educational system and other areas as well.
Paul B. Silverman is Managing Partner Gemini Business Group, LLC (http://www.geminibusinessgroup.com), a new venture development firm. He has four decades senior corporate management, management consulting, adjunct professor, and entrepreneurial management experience. He writes about entrepreneurship, healthcare, analytics, strategy management. Author of “8 Building Blocks To Launch, Manage, And Grow A Successful Business. Follow his blog at http://paulbsilverman.com/blog/
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i think u should go home and play minecraft
You have explained very well on “The Psychology Behind Why Gaming Helps Students Learn”.
happy wheels says
Learning based on games is a great idea to learn. can learn while playing, will reduce pressure. I like so much.