Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Educational video games can boost motivation to learn

Date:
November 6, 2013
Source:
New York University
Summary:
Math video games can enhance students’ motivation to learn, but it may depend on how students play, researchers have found in a study of middle-schoolers.

Math video games can enhance students' motivation to learn, but it may depend on how students play, researchers at New York University and the City University of New York have found in a study of middle-schoolers.

While playing a math video game either competitively or collaboratively with another player -- as compared to playing alone -- students adopted a mastery mindset that is highly conducive to learning. Moreover, students' interest and enjoyment in playing the math video game increased when they played with another student.

Their findings, which appear in the Journal of Educational Psychology, point to new ways in which computer, console, or mobile educational games may yield learning benefits.

"We found support for claims that well-designed games can motivate students to learn less popular subjects, such as math, and that game-based learning can actually get students interested in the subject matter -- and can broaden their focus beyond just collecting stars or points," says Jan Plass, a professor in NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and one of the study's lead authors.

"Educational games may be able to help circumvent major problems plaguing classrooms by placing students in a frame of mind that is conducive to learning rather than worrying about how smart they look," adds co-lead author Paul O'Keefe, an NYU postdoctoral fellow at the time of the study and now at Stanford University's Department of Psychology.

The researchers focused on how students' motivation to learn, as well as their interest and performance in math, was affected by playing a math video game either individually, competitively, or collaboratively.

Specifically, they looked at two main types of motivational orientations: mastery goal orientation, in which students focus on learning, improvement, and the development of abilities, and performance goal orientation, in which students focus on validating their abilities. For instance, in the classroom, a student may be focused on improving their math skills (mastery), or, instead, trying to prove how smart they are or trying to avoid looking incompetent compared their classmates (performance).

Researchers consistently find that a mastery goal orientation facilitates learning because students are focused on accruing knowledge and developing abilities. They also view mistakes and difficulties as part of the learning process -- rather than an indictment of their lack of ability. By contrast, performance goal orientations may hurt the learning process, particularly for those who do not feel competent -- for instance, students who fear looking less intelligent than their classmates may avoid opportunities that would, in fact, bolster their understanding of the material.

However, scholarship has shown that typical educational contexts -- notably, classrooms -- lead students to adopt stronger performance goal orientations than a mastery goal orientation.

Consequently, researchers have sought to understand how to promote students' mastery goal orientations and weaken the performance goal orientations that lead students to avoid potential learning opportunities.

One candidate is educational video games, which, at first glance, would seem to result in performance rather than mastery orientations given their competitive focus and that they are often played with others. But, given the popularity of gaming among school-aged students, exploring their potential value intrigued the study's authors.

To test this possibility, the researchers had middle-school students play the video game FactorReactor, which is designed to build math skills through problem solving and therefore serves as diagnostic for learning.

In order to test the impact of different settings on learning, students were randomly assigned to play the game alone, competitively against another student, or collaboratively with another student. The researchers controlled for students' abilities by conducting a pre-test.

The findings revealed that students who played the math game either competitively or collaboratively reported the strongest mastery goal orientations, which indicates that students adopted an optimal mindset for learning while playing the video game with others.

Their results also showed that students playing under competitive situations performed best in the game. In addition, those playing in both competitive and collaborative conditions experienced the greatest interest and enjoyment.

"The increased interest we observed in the competitive and collaborative conditions suggests that educational games can promote a desire to learn and intentions to re-engage in the material, and in the long run, may create independent and self-determined learners," notes O'Keefe.

The authors caution about generalizing their results, however.

"Although we found a host of beneficial outcomes associated with playing the game with a partner, our results may be limited to the educational content of the game, its design, or our experimental procedure," says Plass. "Future research will need to examine design features that optimize learning across curricula."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jan L. Plass, Paul A. O’Keefe, Bruce D. Homer, Jennifer Case, Elizabeth O. Hayward, Murphy Stein, Ken Perlin. The impact of individual, competitive, and collaborative mathematics game play on learning, performance, and motivation.. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2013; 105 (4): 1050 DOI: 10.1037/a0032688

Cite This Page:

New York University. "Educational video games can boost motivation to learn." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106122025.htm>.
New York University. (2013, November 6). Educational video games can boost motivation to learn. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106122025.htm
New York University. "Educational video games can boost motivation to learn." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131106122025.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Protect Against Piracy ... At A Cost

Google To Protect Against Piracy ... At A Cost

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Google is changing its search-engine results to protect content producers from piracy — for a price. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Microsoft will reportedly release a smartwatch that works across different mobile platforms, has a two-day battery life and tracks heart rate. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Spotify Family A Great Deal Or Catching Up?

Is Spotify Family A Great Deal Or Catching Up?

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Spotify Family lets you add a family member to your account for half price. Although users are excited, it's a move competitors have already made. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins