The Socio-Emotional Benefits of Game-based Learning

BY Kat Shanahan
In addition to rigorous attention to academic standards and achievement, schools and districts are focusing on a holistic growth plan for students, which includes building socio-emotional skills. Careful attention to the development of these skills ensures children will grow up to be well-rounded individuals with a passion for lifelong learning. When used in conjunction with traditional classroom teaching methods, game-based learning has the ability to support struggling students and benefit children's social/emotional well-being.

High-quality digital learning games provide students with a personalized learning experience, encouraging students to learn time management skills, problem solving skills, and critical thinking skills. Inviting students to take ownership of their learning helps them evaluate their in-game and in-class academic progress. Additionally, games help students process complex emotions as they experiment and explore game levels and concepts.

Social Awareness
We’ve heard from our educator allies in the field that often times students who struggle with traditional classroom teaching methods will excel through game-based learning. These students are then able to help students who struggle during gameplay. This “role-reversal” empowers students to empathize with their peers and work to understand their feelings.

Interpersonal Relationships
In addition to providing personalized learning experiences for students, game-based learning can also be used to foster teamwork and collaboration skills. In our eBook, How to Teach with Games, former Teacher Fellow Christine Marsh paints a picture of what game-based learning looks like in the classroom. She said that contrary to what many educators thought, teaching with games did NOT include students sitting in their desks, headphones on, playing games. Instead, students are collaborating, engaging in discussion with one another, and using everyone’s knowledge to help solve challenging levels. Through these activities students are forging healthy relationships and addressing interpersonal conflicts to achieve success.

Decision Making
As outlined in the scenarios above, not only do students need to make decisions throughout the game, but also solve problems as they work together and support one another during gameplay. Through these activities, students are developing strategies to overcome challenges, solve complex problems, and evaluate alternatives to their decisions.

Have you been using games in your classroom? What kinds of benefits have you seen? Let us know in the comments below!