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Research Roundup: Educational Games and Humanities Learning

Filament Games | Educational Game Developer

Any platform, any age, any subject – when it comes to creating games for learning and impact, versatility is key. And though our team has a proven track record across all subjects, some of the our biggest projects of late have been centered around humanities learning – from our longstanding partnership with iCivics, to our suite of English Language Arts (ELA) games for Scholastic, and even our economics and entrepreneurship learning games for Junior Achievement!

🎮: Counties Work (iCivics)

Along the way, we’ve witnessed firsthand how digital games can inspire and engage players in learning about subjects like civics, languages, art history, and more – but do academics agree? Today, we’re examining research findings from the intersection of educational games and humanities learning – check out these highlighted studies!

Triseum Game-Based Learning Validation Study

Kicking off today’s roundup are the results from a game-based learning validation study which attempted to measure the efficacy of Triseum’s calculus game Variant: Limits and art history game ARTé: Mecenas in European classrooms. Conducted in collaboration with the European Schoolnet (a network of 34 Ministries of Education across Europe), the study measured engagement, motivation, and knowledge acquisition outcomes across more than 850 student participants, finding that the games successfully fostered motivation, classroom engagement, and knowledge acquisition – lending further evidence to the power of educational games as a tool for teaching subjects like art history.

Mission US: Up from the Dust – 2016 Quasi-Experimental Classroom Study

Next up, a study in which researchers set out to determine the impact of U.S. history learning game Mission US: Up From the Dust on student learning outcomes. Measuring the performance of nearly 150 middle school students in six classrooms across New York City, the study used classroom observations, teacher interviews, and pre- and post-test questionnaires to determine the efficacy of Up From the Dust in comparison to other, more traditional teaching materials. Ultimately, researchers found considerable differences in pre- and post-test student performance, with learners who experienced the game-based learning intervention demonstrating average gains of approximately 15%, compared to the control group which gained an average of less than 1% – indicating that educational games like Mission US can help play an important role in U.S. history classrooms. 

Using educational games for sign language learning-a signwriting learning game: Case study

We’ve previously discussed game-based language learning research centered on German and Arabic acquisition – but today, we’re switching our focus to digital games for sign language learning. In this pilot study, researchers attempted to determine the interest of learners with hearing impairments in using MemoSign, an educational game that teaches sign language notion system SignWriting. Following the study, participants offered their candid feedback on the game, praising the game for its entertainment value while also noting that they generally found the game to be more satisfying and pleasurable than traditional classroom lessons – opening the door to future research on game-based language learning for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Music learning in preschool with mobile devices

We’re no strangers to high-quality music education games – so we’re always delighted to see new research focusing on the intersection of game-based learning and music education. In this study, researchers set out to determine best practices for designing music games for early childhood learners. Using SAMI, a mobile application comprised of four interactive learning games, this pilot study tasked 43 kindergarten learners with using SAMI over five two-hour sessions. Following surveys and interviews with participants, researchers found that the games had a positive effect on learners’ motivation and interest – promising early results which will likely result in further research on game-based music learning interventions.

The Impact of iCivics on Students’ Core Civic Knowledge

Rounding out today’s list is an iCivics efficacy study conducted by researchers at Baylor University. Designed to measure the impact of iCivics’ digital learning games and resources on students’ core civic knowledge, the study asked 253 students across elementary, middle, and high school levels to complete a pre- and post-test after spending at least 30 minutes per week playing iCivics games across a 6 week duration. Ultimately, researchers found that test scores significantly improved from pre-test to post-test, with students across all grade levels departing the study with an increased understanding of civics principles and improved attitudes towards civic engagement.


For more game-based learning research insights, check out these related articles:
Research Roundup: K-12 Game-Based Learning
Research Roundup: Corporate Training and Adult Learning
Research Roundup: Video Gaming for Older Adults

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