Educational Video Games Help Students with Math Skills

First Posted: Nov 06, 2013 12:27 PM EST

Though video games can often be a distraction from chores or school work, a recent study shows how they can also be a motivator help enhance children's math learning skills.

According to researchers at New York University and the City University of New York, they found that by playing a math video game either competitively or collaboratively with another student, participants were able to adjust their mindset into learning more about numbers and equations.

"We found support for claims that well-designed games can motivate students to learn less popular subjects, such as math, and that game-based learning can actually get students interested in the subject matter-and can broaden their focus beyond just collecting stars or points,"  Jan Plass, a professor in NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and one of the study's lead authors said, via a press release"Educational games may be able to help circumvent major problems plaguing classrooms by placing students in a frame of mind that is conducive to learning rather than worrying about how smart they look."

The researchers focused on how students' motivation to learn can be enhanced through games and other methods that grab and effectively hold their attention.

Researchers specifically looked at two main types of motivational orientations: mastery goal orientation, in which students focus on learning, movement and the development of certain abilities and the performance of those abilities in order to achieve a goal. And they also looked at the ability to gain motivation from studying mistakes and learning from them.

These findings make researchers eager to bring educational video games to the classroom in order to boost the learning atmosphere and academic performance for students.

"The increased interest we observed in the competitive and collaborative conditions suggests that educational games can promote a desire to learn and intentions to re-engage in the material, and in the long run, may create independent and self-determined learners," notes O'Keefe.

The authors caution about generalizing their results, however.

"Although we found a host of beneficial outcomes associated with playing the game with a partner, our results may be limited to the educational content of the game, its design, or our experimental procedure," Plass said, via the release. "Future research will need to examine design features that optimize learning across curricula."

What do you think?

More information regarding the study can be found via the Journal of Educational Psychology.  

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