This reflection is based upon a chapter on game-based learning (GBL) found in the Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (Tobias, Fletcher & Wind, 2014). Its scope is comprehensive and should be a must read for anyone who is interested in GBL.
This chapter covers the following areas of research in GBL: transfer from computer games to external tasks, enhancing cognitive processes, playing time and integration with curricular objectives, effects on participants, cost-effectiveness, guidance and animated agents, the use of games for evaluation and recommendations for game design (Tobias et al., 2014, p.486). For the purposes of this reflection and based upon my own personal interest, I am going to focus on enhancing cognitive processes and what was found in the literature. The reason why this interest me is based upon antidotal observation only with my physics and chemistry students. It feels as though that these students who are gamers tend to do better on certain geometry aware (vectors and shapes of particles) tend to excel at these sections.
Here are the highlights found in the research (Tobias et al., 2014, p.493):
- If the student plays actions games, he or she has shown to be better at visual elements such as, “perception, attention, and cognition” and better reaction time on “complicated perceptual tasks”.
- Student who played games has shown improvement in classification skills.
- Active Tetris players did better in mental rotation tasks then ones who did not play Tetris. It was noted that it only applied to the shapes found in Tetris. This would imply that a method like this would offer a low ability to transfer to other mental tasks.
- Gaming surgeons make few laparoscopy mistakes and worked at a faster pace than non-gaming surgeons.
The potential of these skills enhancement as it relates the manipulation of visual space could be helpful for those students that struggle in those areas due to lack of experience or other deficits of which I am not aware.
Tobias, S., Fletcher, J. D. & Wind, A. P. (2014). Handbook of research on educational communications and technology. New York: Springer.