Research involving 88 second-grade pupils has shown that those who use computer-based maths games achieve better results in tests than those relying on paper exercises in their preparation.
During the study conducted at Ghent University in the Netherlands children were divided into three groups – one was given educational game Monkey Tales to help them with their studies, the second had conventional paper-based exercises at hand and the third group didn’t receive any assignment at all in the preparation for their test.
After comparing the groups' results, the researchers saw that children who played the games performed better than the two other groups. They also managed to complete the test much faster.
According to the researchers, the game motivated children to study and made their learning process more efficient. According to the data, up to 80 per cent of children who played the game described their experience as “fun, exciting and fantastic,” and nearly 60 per cent of them said they would like to play more, while only 39 per cent of those left with paper based exercises expressed the desire to solve further tasks.
More research needs to be done to evaluate how such results are achieved by the game. Some suggest that the fact that the game provides continuous feedback throughout playing might make the difference. The fact that it allows adjusting the difficulty level to the player’s needs and trains additional cognitive skills, such as working memory and attention, might also play a role.
Educational games started as a spin-off from US defence industry where they have been used to teach new recruits various skills, including tactical combat training and inter-personal communication. In recent years, such games have also taken off in education, building on the presumption that children often have to acquire large amounts of knowledge and master complex skills to be able to play “entertainment games”.