Gaming can boost university skills, study shows

by Brett Henebery07 Jun 2017
Gamification is the process of adding game elements to learning software. It uses research from neuroscience, motivation, and learning to create a learning environment with game elements such as story and immediate feedback.

These elements can improve retention of information and improve engagement.

Now, according to a new study, this practice could help young people be more successful at university.

A trial conducted by University of Glasgow found that gaming improved communication skills, resourcefulness and adaptability.

During the eight-week study, graduates were tested on measures of adaptability, resourcefulness and communication skills.

The intervention group played specified video games, showing improvements in these areas compared with the control group over 14 hours of play.

Researchers suggest this could impact on education success, with students seeing increases in attributes which help employability.

University of Glasgow lecturer, Matthew Barr, told the BBC that many video games encouraged “critical thinking and reflective learning”.

These are central to “graduate attributes”, which are seen as desirable by employers hiring people after university.

“The findings suggest that such game-based learning interventions have a role to play in higher education”, Barr said.

“Graduate attributes are those generic skills such as problem-solving, communication, resourcefulness or adaptability which are considered desirable in graduates, particularly where employability is concerned.

"Modern video games often require players to be adaptable and resourceful, and finding multiple ways of accomplishing a task. The way games are designed often encourages critical thinking and reflective learning, commonly cited as desirable attributes in graduates. "

Barr added that his research is “perhaps what every parent may or, in the case of some, may not like to hear.”

“This work demonstrates that playing commercial video games can have a positive effect on communication ability, adaptability and resourcefulness in adult learners, suggesting that video games may have a role to play in higher education,” he said.

The games used in the study included Borderlands 2, Minecraft, Portal 2, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and World of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

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