Educational Impact of Videogames: Enterpeneurial Teacher Reports Findings

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A group of high school students traded in their textbooks for a multiplayer videogame and achieved higher test scores than students learning the exact same material the old-fashioned way.

A group of high school students traded in their textbooks for a multiplayer videogame and achieved higher test scores than students learning the exact same material the old-fashioned way.

Under the watchful tutelage of David McDivitt, an enterprising Social Studies teacher at Oak Hill High School in Converse, Ind., 64 sophomore students played "Making History®", the historical simulation game from Muzzy Lane Software. Another group of students used their standard history textbooks along with the usual lectures and assignments that define a typical day in high school.

Both groups were attempting to learn the same material: The political and economic causes of World War II.

Both groups were tested on their knowledge of key events, such as the 1938 Munich Conference and their general knowledge of European geography.

One group – the students who played "Making History" – learned more facts and wrote more sophisticated essays in tests conducted after a week of game play. According to Mr. McDivitt, "Making History" also addresses several key components of Indiana’s state curriculum guidelines for secondary education.

“For every teacher using a videogame in the classroom there are probably a hundred others watching and wondering about the real educational impact this technology,” says Mr. McDivitt.

“I am not an expert in statistics unless it has to do with points allowed by my defense on the Oak Hill Golden Eagle football team. But what I am seeing here is the game players are doing better on assessment. The kids who played the game scored as well or better on every single test question we administered.”

Highlights of Oak Hill High School’s Game vs. Non-Game Study

Mr. McDivitt applied a common set of questions to both groups of students prior to game week, and then tested the students with the same questions after each group had completed their learning cycles.

What he found was a noticeable and in some cases stunning difference in the degree to which the game-play students improved compared with the textbook students.

Here are some of the highlights (percentages indicate the relative increase in performance from the pre-lesson test to the post-lesson test):

  • Identify the countries of Europe on a blank map outline:

Game Players: 70%

Non-Game Players: 45%

  • Explain the significance of the 1938 Munch Conference:

Game Players: 90%

Non-Game Players: 55%

  • Define the reasons for the start of World War II:

Game Players: 67%

Non-Game Players: 35%

“I am not saying that games are the panacea for all of education’s problems,” says Mr. McDivitt. “But there is no doubt anymore that the right videogame integrated properly with traditional curriculum has a clear and meaningful impact on the quality of learning.”

About Muzzy Lane Software

Founded in 2002 and based in Newburyport, Mass., Muzzy Lane Software is delivering the next-generation video game platform for learning. For more information about the company, visit http://www.muzzylane.com.

Note to Editors: Oak Hill High School has made available a series of digital photos from Mr. McDivitt’s classroom showing students collaborating and playing "Making History." Please contact Pete Greer: pgreer @ g2pr.com

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Peter Greer
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