The Gaming Classroom: Why We Should Remain Skeptical Of Educational Video Games – Part 2 of 3

There is so much gaming hype going on in the world and it has invaded the education system for better and worse. Clearly the system is trying to find solutions to the epidemic of sub-par grades in Math, Science And Reading. I’m just not sure that educational video games are the solution. This is the second part of a 3-part series and we will be discussing in depth about another study done using the DimensionM game, which is the Math part of the DimensionU Gaming Suite.

Case Study #2: Where’s The Full Report?

A Broward County Study showed an average pre-post test improvement was 82.7% and 75% of students who used DimensionM received a passing grade in the course versus 35.5% of students who did not use DimensionM.

For the second study, I had to do some more research. Clearly, the increase in test scores and the increase of passing grades is remarkable. What I discovered is that this study was used on a group of rising 7th and 8th graders in a “Math Recovery Program” in the summer. This means that these were students with very poor grades in Math and therefore had a huge potential for increasing test scores.

Indeed, I am please with the results. These were young students whose scores were very below average and 75% of the ones that played the DimensionM games raised their test scores to “passing” levels as opposed to only 35% of the non-gaming students reached passing grades. I applaud the increase.

As I continued to look for the “full report” on the study to gather more details, I learned that there is no full report. At least, not one that could be found anywhere on DimensionU’s website or anywhere else online. I was a bit disappointed because all I could find were the highlights of the study. This makes me feel a bit skeptical at best.

The first set of figures are also somewhat unclear. It says that “pre-post test improvement was 82.7%.” Does that mean that on average, the students’ scores were 82.7% higher after having used the game? Or does it mean that 82.7% of students “improved” their test scores? I will assume the statement relates to the second question. If it’s true that 82.7% of students improved their scores, then, by how much? The study doesn’t say. It only states that 75% of students received a “passing grade.” So 3 out of ever 4 students passed and could continue on to the next Math level for the coming school year.

I wonder, how many of the students had failing grades, and then were able to raise their grades to a “D” range which would consider that a passing grade? The study doesn’t answer this question. Is it safe to assume that at least some of those below-average students went from an F in Math to a D? Sure, in the 3 weeks, I would consider that an improvement too.

Now All The Schools Want To Play Games

For the schools that have the budget want to invest in the DimensionU Gaming Suite. Why? Because the goal of schools is to minimize the amount of failing students as much as possible. It makes their stats look bad. The schools want to implement this technology into the classroom and use it as a teaching tool hoping that more students will achieve passing grades.

When Did Mediocrity Become Acceptable?

No where in this study does it even hint that with this technology we could possibly beat China, Japan, India, or many other countries in Math, Science, and Reading test scores. The study doesn’t hint at it, because it’s not possible! This study implies that everyone’s test scores will rise if used in the classroom. The facts aren’t there. Everyone is getting so excited that their failing students will achieve mediocrity at best. Wow! Let’s all clap our hands. We’ll have more mediocre students to compete against the superior students of Math, Science, and Language in other parts of the world.

Certainly, we must help our failing students. I’m not attacking them. We should do whatever is necessary increase their skills. One idea I have for struggling students is give them
the opportunity to participate in this gaming system after school. The games will give them an opportunity for more repetition in order to absorb the material that was taught in class. I just don’t want to see entire class periods focused on educational video games.

I’m not against educational games, but I don’t want the excitement for this technology, (just like any other new technology), to be implemented in such a way that it become a crutch for learning. Most of the students that participated in the study, said that they would like to have the DimensionU gaming suite in the classroom next year.

Does Learning Always Have To Be Fun?

For the last twenty years or so, I’ve been hearing that if learning could be done in a fun way, then why not do it? I also have heard countless times that learning is supposed to be fun. Certainly, enthusiasm can help in the learning process, but I think it’s a bad precedent to teach kids that learning is supposed to fun. They will grow thinking that everything is supposed to be fun. Is everything in life fun? If you’re an adult reading this, then you know the answer.

Let’s be realistic. Some things in life are not fun and that’s OK. If everything was fun we wouldn’t appreciate it. We need the “unfun” stuff in life so that we can make that comparison and therefore enjoy the fun when it comes our way. So sometimes learning is not fun, but it’s part of life. We need to be challenged. Humanity did not reach this point in time with just mediocrity. We have reached this modern technological world because humanity overcame its challenges.

Our Expectations Continue To Fall

We’ve gone from “giving children a head start in life” to “no child left behind.” The bar is being lowered and lowered. Instead of focusing on reaching mediocrity, we need to focus on achieving superiority.

1 Way To Achieve Greatness

Certainly technology can help us advance knowledge, improve the education of our children, and achieve greatness. The Internet is proof that young people are making great strides in intelligence since most of the knowledge of mankind is available online. How to find it is another subject entirely.

In order for young people to get the most out of the technology that is available to them is begin early on in developing the brains so that they have the capability to absorb, interpret, and apply what they learn. As I stated in Part 1, learning a musical instrument should on list of essential tools for developing intelligence. We’re not talking about passing grades or mediocrity. We’re talking about developing a mind that can not only absorb information, and regurgitate it, but a mind that has the capability to imagine, discover, and innovate. This type of mind will be able to produce, contribute to society, and compete with the rest of the greats minds of the world.

I want to make a reminder that we humans did not reach this point in time by learning algebra on a video game. The leisure and pleasures that we enjoy in this modern society were provide to us by intelligent minds that that were developed through hard work, dedication, and the desire to achieve something for the world that was greater that the world that was provide to them.

In Part 3, I will be discussing a third case study of the educational gaming suite, and provide factual data on the benefits of studying music in order to make a comparison of which method is better for building intelligent minds.