A new SRI study released today suggests they do — at least in the subjects of science, math, engineering, and technology. According to the report, which is an analysis of 77 peer-reviewed journal articles of students K-16 studying STEM subjects, “when digital games were compared to other instruction conditions without digital games, there was a moderate to strong effect in favor of digital games in terms of broad cognitive competencies.”
More specifically, “students at the median in the control group (no games) could have been raised 12 percent in cognitive learning outcomes if they had received the digital game.”
Another way to explain it: “For a student sitting in the median who doesn’t have a game, his or her learning achievement would have increased by 12 percent if he or she had that game,” said Ed Dieterle, Senior Program Officer for Research, Measurement, and Evaluation for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funded the SRI report.
Simulations have an even bigger impact, according to this analysis. When considering simulations — taking a phenomena, process, or behavior and coding it into something that can be manipulated and studied — improvement index jumped to 25 percent, meaning students who used simulations could have increased their learning outcomes by that amount.
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