Looking at whether there’s a correlation between playing video games and learning will continue to gain popularity among teachers and students who are looking for an effective method to increase skills and test scores. The skeptics believe that there is no correlation between video games and improving test scores. But others increasingly see video games as a useful learning tool.
A study published in the journal Educational Psychology was based on a survey of over 27,000 French teenagers. It measured the frequency (ranging from “never” to “every day or almost”) that teenagers played recreational video games (car racing, fighting, etc.) vs. how often they took part in reading activities (including crime, thriller, and fantasy). It then used the results to determine that there were "no correlations or very slight ones between video games and cognitive/school tests.”
However, when you consider the video games in the study were being played for recreation purposes and were not learning-based games, it’s difficult to determine how much weight someone should place on these results. It’s fair to say that reading activities have important associations with cognitive abilities, but the cognitive stimulation produced from games played for fun is entirely different from those involved in academic subjects.
What’s more, this study opposes a theory that hasn’t even been proposed: that all video games improve grades. The research fails to look at video games designed for the purpose of learning and supplementing classroom learning.
In contrast, a study in the Journal of the Learning Sciences shows that games aligned to a curriculum can improve grades as well as long-term retention. At the end of the testing period, 92% percent of teachers said they would continue to use video games as part of their program because of these advantages:
- Students playing the games increased their test scores by the equivalent of half a letter grade in three weeks.
- Teachers who blended their classrooms, dividing time between typical instruction and game-based learning, reported dramatic increases in student engagement.
- Ninety-two percent of teachers said they would like to use similar games again because of the impact on student performance and engagement.
Unlike the study found in the journal Educational Psychology, the study published in the Journal of the Learning Sciences acknowledges the critical difference between playing for leisure and playing a game with the intent to learn.
Now that we have your attention, here are 5 apps that we think will help make your students learn:
MindBlown Labs Teaches financial literacy in a fun game format. Players will be put into scenarios where they will need to make financial decisions that include student loans, saving for a home, health emergencies, car problems, and high-interest credit cards.
Maths Everywhere Can help improve math skills relevant to students’ lives, like splitting the bill at a restaurant, changing the quantities in a recipe, and financial problems. Each lesson is divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced to serve a wide variety of math literacy levels.
Sight Words This app contains 315 words that are broken down into appropriate literacy levels. This app will help readers gain the tools to instantly recognize these high-frequency words and their phonetics.
Building a Strong Vocabulary Helps users improve their vocabulary by matching words to their definitions. The words are connected to life skills, work readiness, and academic preparation in social studies and science.
World of Goo is a fun physics-based game that teaches critical thinking puzzle solving skills, physical mechanics, and how to learn from your failures. Once users play this game, they will start to notice how the items they build in the game can be found in real life engineering.
Do you think you will try using mobile games or apps with your adult education students? Are there any others you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.