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Educational Video Games Essay

1983 words - 8 pages

Develop and critically evaluate a research design to investigate an issue in education
My area of interest is in the use and effect of ‘educational’ video games on learning. Grand claims are made in marketing materials produced by companies such as Nintendo about their software’s potential to improve users’ working memory, often further suggesting that the merits of this improvement can be felt in many different areas of cognition. These games are developed based on principles of neuroscience, and many are being marketed to parents and children.
Many more related, yet distinct educational games exist online in the form of game-based activities for students, marketed to schools as a supplement to classroom teaching, a resource for homework or as a revision tool. Such tools claim to improve performance in standardised tests for curricula worldwide.
I feel it is important to distinguish between the two different kinds of educational game described above, yet also consider it important to point out that claims made of one are often applied to the other when marketing the games to consumers.
In this assignment I will discuss some of the shortcomings of existing research in the field, as well as provide a methodology for a further study into the impact and efficacy of such programmes.
Context
A randomised control trial study aimed to infer a causal relationship between playing of Nintendo’s ‘Brain Age’ and cognitive function, by Nouchi, R., Taki, Y., Takeuchi, H., Hashizume, H., Akitsuki, Y., Shigemune, . . . Kawashima, R. (2012) indicated that playing the “commercial brain training game improves executive functions, working memory, and processing speed in young adults” (p.1).
The sample for the study (41 people gathered through an advertisement placed in a newspaper) excluded people who “reported playing video games less than one hour of a week over the prior two years” (p.3). While the decision to exclude people who already play games was made to maximise the impact of the intervention, this limits the external validity of the study for young people, many of whom may already play video games regularly.
Claims were made through the 1990s and the early 2000s as to the intrinsic motivational aspects of computer use in the classroom, but considering the proliferation and now relative ubiquity of computers, games consoles and video games, the impact on motivation should again be considered.
Another randomised control trial conducted by Miller & Robertson (2011) examined the effects of games consoles on learning (specifically, mental computation) in the primary classroom over a period of 9 weeks (pre-post design). They found that while significant pre-post gains in accuracy and speed of calculations were found in both the experimental and control groups, “the gains in the experimental group were 50% greater than those of the controls in accuracy, and twice those of the controls in speed.” (p.1)
The trial was conducted with a large sample of 634 primary...

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