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From the G4C17 Festival: 10 Studies to Silence the Skeptics

Research supports the power of game-based learning to transform education

If you’re still not convinced about the positive power games can have beyond their entertainment value, we’ve got some data for you—courtesy of the 14th annual Games for Change (G4C) Festival.

The G4C17 Festival was recently held at the Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York City. This year’s event drew its largest audience to date, attracting more than 1,000 game developers, scientists, educators, edtech companies, and people who like to play games.

For the third year in a row, the Festival featured a “Games for Learning” Summit, co-hosted this year by the Entertainment Software Association and Microsoft. This popular programming track focused on rethinking educational assessments, exploring virtual reality in the classroom, and leveraging computer science to empower both teachers and learners.

Constance Steinkuehler, professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine and president of the Higher Education Video Games Alliance (HEVGA), delivered the keynote address. Her Monday session shared important findings from research compiled over the last decade on the impact of games in education.

Professor Steinkuehler, who also served as senior policy analyst under the Obama administration in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, cited 10 key studies (reported on by EdSurge here) that support the value of game-based learning. Whether improving learning outcomes, enhancing attention control, changing minds and challenging stereotypes, or improving cognitive and social skills, the body of data on the impact of educational gaming is growing and it’s promising.

What about the data on DreamBox?

Glad you asked. A recent Harvard Study found that for every 20 minutes a student spent on DreamBox their Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) score increased by 2.5 points. Visit dreambox.com/research to download the complete study and key findings, and access other independent research evaluations on the efficacy of DreamBox.

Ayu Othman, art director at DreamBox Learning states that, “DreamBox strives to incorporate game design principles in a way that supports student learning and engagement. At the start of lesson content development, we ask ourselves how we can provide contexts that are intertwined with the content we are teaching. One prime example would be our Function Graph lessons. In these lessons, the student generates graphs that are intrinsically connected with the terrain the student’s robot has to navigate to collect goal items. While we did add extrinsic rewards in these lessons (customizable robot skins, fun retro-game-like visuals), the intrinsic reward at the core lies in the student’s being able to discover the right functional representation that generates a graph allowing the robot to navigate its tricky terrain. The math itself is the game!”

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