As we’ve discussed at length elsewhere, educational video games have proliferated considerably in the past 20 years. From Quantum Leap to iPad apps, there are games across subject areas for every level. But of course, not all of these games are equally valuable – the preponderance of evidence from current research suggests that the best edutainment games are those which engage students in active learning.
A recent study from Stanford researchers Holly Pope, Jo Boaler, and Charmaine Mangram sheds further light on the effects and efficacy of math-based active learning games. In the study, one group of third grade students played the game Wuzzit Trouble for a combined total of two hours over four weeks, while a group of their classmates did not. Though both groups received the exact same classroom instruction, the group which played the game saw their assessment scores improve by 20.5% – even though the game was not directly related to the subject matter being taught and tested in the class.
This leap can be attributed to Wuzzit Trouble’s emphasis on developing number sense, or the ability to conceptualize the relationships between numbers beyond simple memorization. Rather than focusing on quick recall and repetition of a given type of practice problem, Wuzzit Trouble has players solve puzzles by manipulating integers. So when you’re shopping for math games for your kids, consider this – does the game you’re looking at require active learning and thinking outside the box, or is it just a fancy, digitized set of flashcards? You want a game that will help your children to develop a deeper understanding, and not all games do that.
To learn more about the benefits of this type of game, read this discussion of the new study by Forbes contributor and edtech scholar Jordan Shapiro.