Gaming is being tried by instructors at every level as a creative way to engage and educate students. While games have a place in the classroom, they may be much less effective than expected.
Vic Vuchic, chief innovation officer and executive director of Digital Promise Global, told attendees at the 2016 Textbook Affordability Conference, held April 27-29 at the University of California, Davis, that games are so perfectly designed for the task performed in the game that information doesn’t always translate beyond the competition itself.
“To be honest, the hype is far beyond what the research is showing us is happening,” Vuchic said during a question-and-answer session that followed his presentation Collaborative and Innovation as Course Materials Strategy. “If you learn something in a game, generally, when you step out of that game and have to apply it somewhere else, you really won’t be able to do it.”
Vuchic told the audience about work done at Stanford University by Daniel Schwartz, dean of the institution’s graduate school of education, that showed games are most helpful when direct instruction was part of the coursework. In the experiment, Schwartz had one test group play a game and then provided instruction before a test was given. A second group only played the game before the assessment and a third only received direct instruction.
“It ends up that the ones who played the game and got direct instruction far outperformed the others,” he said. “You get some loose concepts in understanding games, but it’s not enough to bring it home. Someone has to anchor it and say, ‘This is the theory.’”
Vuchic’s presentation was streamed live on the NACS Facebook page. Here is the entire 53-minute video: