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Research Roundup: K-12 Learners, STEM, and Game-based Learning

It’s been a minute since we last covered research on game-based learning and K-12 students. Whether you’re new to the blog or you’ve been around for a while, you know that here at Filament, we believe playful experiences improve people’s lives, and that video games are an invaluable piece of edtech. We’ll never ask you to just take our word for it, though – there’s a body of research that backs up what we believe! 

Whether you’re interested in creating a STEM game for any age group under the K-12 umbrella, or you’re an educator wondering if game-based learning is worth fitting into your STEM lesson plans this year, we have a round-up of studies below just for you! Read on and discover why the combination of STEM and game-based learning rocks, especially for the K-12 crowd. 

via Giphy

Before we get into the studies, let us know on Facebook or Twitter if you’ve come across any thought-provoking research about game-based learning in the K-12 sphere lately! 

Using Augmented Reality in K-12 Education: An Indicative Platform for Teaching Physics 

This study was conducted by a group of researchers based in Greece, with the goal of eventually developing a large-scale augmented reality tool to aid primary and secondary school students with physics education. The development of this AR technology considered past educational applications of AR in both STEM and the humanities. To determine the efficacy of the in-progress tool, the researchers tested it in lesson plans given to fifth and sixth graders in primary school and first graders in secondary school. The lessons utilizing AR technology included topics such as digestive system, electricity, and more (you can read more of the specifics and see pictures by clicking the link above!). Ultimately, “The findings were encouraging, revealing that the proposed system is easy and functional with respect to usability. Additionally, it is a gamified system that contributes to improving the learning process and to better supporting learning objectives. Finally, teachers are willing to adopt and incorporate such modern learning methods into their instructional design to enhance pupils’ skills, learning experiences and performance.” Both teachers and students benefited from this AR learning experience, and researchers also noted that AR contains “possible benefits such as improving problem solving, performance, motivation, creativity, satisfaction, engagement and collaboration,” and that they plan to investigate more of these benefits in the future!

Game-based learning has good chemistry with chemistry education: A three-level meta-analysis

This meta-analysis aimed to “estimate the overall effect size of GBL [game-based learning] in chemistry education on cognitive, motivational, and emotional outcomes compared with non-GBL” through the consideration of 842 articles and 34 different related studies. Though not every study focused specifically on K-12, many of the studies targeted specific age groups, such as those under 18 years old, K-6, K-14, and so on. Researchers concluded that game-based learning “may address the unique characteristics of a single subject. For example, essential game design features such as interactivity, challenges, play, and feedback may address the challenges in chemistry education such as low performance, motivation, and emotion.” Though the authors of this analysis suggested more research is needed to determine the emotional effect of game-based learning, they concluded that “GBL has good chemistry with chemistry education in media comparison research—chemistry GBL holds the right formula for improved learning and motivation…” That’s the power of engaging educational games for you!

The impact of serious games in mathematics fluency: A study in Primary Education 

The goal of this research was “to study the impact of the use of serious games in primary education classrooms, specifically on mathematics fluency, taking into account gamification variables and teaching experience.” The study involved 284 students, ranging in age from first to fourth grade. A control group that did not use game-based learning and an experimental group that used game-based learning each took the same pre-test and post-test. After analyzing the completed tests, researchers concluded that “The results show a significant improvement in mathematics fluency with the use of serious games in the different grades and classroom groups studied.” If you’re interested in the full breakdown of test scores and all of the details collected through this research, visit the link above – a download of the research article is available in both English and Spanish!  

Using an Online Serious Game to Teach Basic Programming Concepts and Facilitate Gameful Experiences for High School Students 

This study included 38 high school students and sought to determine whether serious games were significantly helpful for teaching programming concepts. The study also investigated whether game-based learning affected the two genders included in the study differently. Like in the previous study, students were split into a control group with no game-based learning and an experimental group that included game-based learning. Each student took a pre-test and post-test to measure their results and understanding of programming fundamentals. The experimental group also filled out a survey and reported what they thought of their game-based learning experience. Researchers concluded that “using SGs [serious games] to teach learning programming fundamentals to High School students increased their learning scores and students perceived the sense of playfulness, guidance and social experience of the SG without having significant differences between girls and boys.” Psst! Do these results have you looking for a STEM learning game that includes programming? Check out RoboCo, which now includes Python

Effects of digital game-based STEM education on students’ learning achievement: a meta-analysis 

Closing out this research roundup is another meta-analysis! These researchers analyzed 33 different studies to see how K-12 (and some higher ed students, too) were affected by game-based learning while practicing STEM concepts. In these 33 different studies, researchers considered subject discipline, education level, game type, gaming platform, and intervention duration. Overall, researchers concluded that their “findings suggest that digital games are a promising pedagogical method in STEM education that effectively improves learning gains.” If you’re interested in the full breakdown and data considered in this meta-analysis, check out the full report by clicking the link above!

There you have it – from physics to math to programming and beyond, games are a powerful motivational tool that helps students find joy in learning and retain their knowledge. At Filament, we create engaging, impactful games for all ages. If you or your organization is in need of a custom game or app designed for K-12 students, we’d love to learn more – contact us today for a free consultation!

More research on the impact of game-based learning:

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