As the education field has evolved, an emphasis has been put on student centered learning. No longer do teachers stand in front of the classroom lecturing about a given topic, now it is expected that students are immersed in their learning environment, practicing and applying the skills they are learning. Students are expected to guide their learning and continue striving towards more to achieve mastery. But not all subject areas can be “practiced” in a traditional classroom. So how can teachers lead students to real world practical experiences with the skills they are learning? Educational Games can allow for this “real world” experience to happen. Students can practice skills like creating a roller coaster, or applying medical treatment, without leaving the classroom. They can receive instant feedback for their achievements or misconceptions and continue working towards success.
Research shows that the use of games in the classroom can lead to student success. Judy Willis, of Edutopia cites that games allow for constant feedback to the learner. They are able to work towards achievable rewards in specific levels and decipher if they are correct or not. When correct student’s brains are stimulated by the release of dopamine. This type of reaction motivates learners to continue and helps them retain the information they are learning (Willis, 2011). Recently, Yale researchers found that short video games can stimulate the learners brain. The researchers referred to these short video games as “mental stretching.” The can excite students about the material at hand and prepare them for the day of learning (Banville, 2016)
The idea of using games in education has grown so much over the past few years that it was recently included in the “Every Student Succeeds” legislation. The legislation cites games as an important part of student success. Games can be used to increase collaboration and problem solving skills. It also suggests that games can be used as an assessment tool (Banville, 2015). Teachers should utilize sites such as iCivics to identify games that promote and stimulate learning. Games in education should not just be used as a reward, but they can be used to encourage learning and as the learning task! Even better, students can be involved in making the games!
Banville, Lee. 2016 may test the government’s commitment to learning games. Games and Learning. Classroom Use, 28 Dec. 2015.
Banville, Lee. Brain trainers may kick start learning in students. Games and Learning. Learning Research, 1 Oct. 2016.
Willis MD, Judy. A neurologist makes the case for the video game model as a learning tool.” Edutopia. N.p., 14 Apr. 2011.