Learning Through Play: The Advantages Of Game-Based Learning
Over the past few years, there has been a growing investment in game-based and gamified learning as a methodology to make learning more fun and engaging to drive improved retention, information processing, critical thinking, problem solving and innovation. This comes with a significant increase in the use, design, and research of digital games with students using them in the classroom, libraries or even after-school programs.
As digital games become a more regular part of the classroom, identifying its benefits could bridge the gap in learning. Based on an international survey, nearly half (47%) of educators agree that low-performing students benefit most from the use of games.It shows that while playing games, students tend to be highly engaged in the classroom activity, improving both retention and learning outcomes.
Another study suggests that in order to learn effectively, intrinsic motivation must be integrated into learning. This implies that games in the classroom should not just be an accessory or a quick ice-breaker, but must be embedded in the lesson content, as students can greatly benefit from its advantages.
Motivation and Engagement
During development, creators often focus on game aspects that keep the retention of the players to ensure that they will be engaged. When well-designed, video games can excel at maintaining high levels of attention. Some factors that help achieve this are through the use and understanding of self-directed exploration, meta-games and quests paired with compelling reward systems.
When faced with appropriately timed and balanced challenges throughout a game, players are motivated to find solutions on their own. This encourages further exploration and more learning which can also translate to an extended retention of lessons points and topics, enhancing a student’s learning outcomes.
Games are built with challenges and problems that players are required to solve to progress. When players determine a possible solution to these challenges, the results are obvious and immediately noticeable. This, however, does not translate to a “game over” if the chosen solution is incorrect. One of the key benefits of Game Based Learning focuses on exercising a student’s skill to identify their mistakes, investigate new approaches and reiterate their solutions.
Since the feedback is quick and easily understandable in digital games, there is no gap in between where the learning points are brushed aside. Students continue to remain focused on solving the problem presented, further improving their critical thinking skills.
Simulation and Interaction
Simulation is a key element of digital games that is unique to the platform, which also works great from an education standpoint. Educational games can expand this element further by simulating real-world environments, activities, interactions and such which students are not normally exposed to in their communities. One good example is how some games, such as Planeteers, simulate interplanetary travel.
Students are free to learn new concepts in this vast safe space, effectively serving as a sandbox where they can explore their imagination and test their ideas.
Practice and Mastery
First time players often fail to reach the goal established by a game’s rules, however it’s very rare for them to experience this failure as an obstacle to try again. In fact, educational games encourage players to investigate and think of different approaches if their first few attempts do not work. This continuous practice cycle not only improves how well-versed they are with the game, but also helps them work toward different skills mastery.
Game-based learning grants students’ permission to take risks considered outlandish or impossible in “real life”. This activates their tenacity and persistence required for effective learning.
STEAM Education greatly benefits from the Game-Based Learning methodology. It is a modern, effective and engaging approach to teach students STEAM subjects and key concepts, especially in a project based on enquiry setting.
Teachers who have been using game-based learning the classroom for years will tell you there’s nothing new about the research findings into the benefits of using games in class. Games are powerful tools that can motivate students and give them the opportunity to learn while playing. Game-based learning need not be expensive, there are many free games that are great for lessons. You can find some ideas and resources here, check them out to level up learning for your students! Of course, you can also take a look at our own award winning game Planeteers.