It’s assumed playing computer and video games influences learning in two ways: (1) playing electronic games improve performance on cognitive tasks that use similar mental processes; and (2) these games also motivate children and adults to think critically and problem solve.
A current review, published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, examined existing research on the effects of online game-based learning on those commonly assumed cognitive and motivational benefits.
The researchers identified 39 studies involving a total of 5,547 participants that focused on serious games (computer games) to compare learning outcomes, retention, and motivation. Serious games were defined as a game not intended to purely entertain the player but rather to use the entertaining quality for training and education.
The meta-analysis of game-based learning confirmed that serious games are more effective when they are supplemented with other instructional methods, such as pairing computer games with paper-aids and working in groups. Supplemental instructional methods are conducive in prompting players to connect their new knowledge to prior knowledge – a skill they utilize throughout their academic careers.
The conclusions drawn from these results are useful for teachers and other practitioners that may be reluctant to use serious games in the classrooms. One of the misconceptions is that it can be difficult to integrate serious game play into daily routines, but researchers suggest paring the games with instructional methods that are already being used in the classroom.
One of the most widely used classrooms strategies for online games is student practice for reinforcement of skills taught. For example, if students are learning multiplication facts, online games can be used in which answers to selected facts will allow student avatars to reach a higher level, move a player ahead, win a virtual prize, or other (ongoing) reward. Student progress can be saved so they can return to their last successful spot and continue with new (or repeated) practice.
Most online games for classroom use allow the teacher, parent, or supervising adult to sort, select, and set parameters for each individual student.
Reading comprehension games, spelling games, and many interactive history games (especially for older students) can reinforce a knowledge base, improve vocabulary, spark interest in new topics, expose kids to poetry, language prosody, literary genres, encourage visual spatial integrity, help with eye hand coordination, and much more.
NeuroNet’s online learning programs can easily be integrated into the classroom with current instructional methods. The entire class can perform the rhythmic exercises as it promotes learning and motor skill development within an entertaining context.
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