Remember the earlier mentioned studies that showed that action video games improved visual-spacial skills? The Benefits of Playing Video Games (Granic, Lobel, and Egels in Americal Psychologist, January, 2014) noted: Spatial skills predict achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Spatial skills “can be trained with video games (primarily action games) in a relatively brief period” and that these skills “last over an extended period of time” and are transferable to other “spatial tasks outside the video game context.” Those learning these skills from video games show increased efficiency of neural processing.
Playing video games of any type has been linked to enhanced creativity, although we do not know if games contributed to the enhanced creativity, or if creative types tend toward video games, or both.
What are the downsides to game based learning?
According to Tobias et al, when the game mechanics become complex, learning can be inhibited. Game designers “need to be mindful of the cognitive load imposed on players” to learn to play.
There is little knowledge on the most effective ways to produce games “the reliably yield pre-specified instructional objectives.”
There is also little knowledge on the most effective ways to produce games that reliably yield pre-specified learning objectives. It’s hard to know in advance if students will master a specific standard through X hours playing any one game.
However, games that are intended to support learning (edugames) were especially effective when combined with other instructional methods, which argues for games being integrated with multiple methods of instruction. “Integrating games into the curriculum improves transfer from games to school learning tasks.”
Games, combined with other instructional strategies, may be the solution to Blum’s two-sigma problem.
Mitch Weisburgh is co-founder and director at Games 4 Ed, a non-profit committed to studying and breaking down the barriers to ubiquitous gaming in the classroom.
For this piece, Mitch Weisburgh leaned on several references, including:
Effects of video-game play on information processing: A meta-analytic investigation
Digital Games as Educational Technology: Promise and Challenges in the Use of Games to Teach
Playful Learning: An Integrated Design Framework
Flow in Schools Revisited, Shernoff, Chikszentmihalyi, Handbook of Positive Psychology in Schools, Second Edition
Engagement and Positive Youth Development: Creating Optimal Learning Environments
Independent Research and Evaluation on GlassLab Games and Assessments
The Benefits of Playing Video Games