Friday, April 18, 2014

Gameplay Gender Gap Evaporating

Of the various social media tools, the role of digital games has strong implications for understanding the importance of students’ out of school learning experiences. Foremost, the traditional gender gap between girls and boys in digital game playing has largely evaporated when examining students’ use of tablets and smartphones for games.

Approximately 42 percent of girls in grades 3-5 and 37 percent of girls in grades 6-8 say that they are regularly playing games on tablets; within the same age groupings, 38 percent of boys are using tablets for digital gaming. A similar pattern exists with smartphone-based game playing with slightly more than one quarter of boys and girls in grades 3-5 using this medium for their digital play and 45 percent of middle school girls and boys.

However, participating in massively multi-player online games (MMOGs) is definitely an activity favored by boys, especially middle school boys who self-identify their technology skills as advanced. Amongst that group, 42 percent say they are regularly participating in MMOGs. Even within the group of girls with advanced tech skills, only 26 percent are MMOG players.

A key component of the MMOG play is the social interaction with other players who share a similar passion for the game topic or activities. And while girls are traditionally more interested in group or collaborative projects, a larger percentage of tech-advanced middle school boys (44 percent) than girls (37 percent) see these digital games as a way to learn how to work in teams.
Girls and boys across all grade levels see digital games as having significant learning benefits if employed within a school environment, including greater engagement in learning and making it easier to understand difficult concepts.

While approximately 25 percent of classroom teachers are integrating digital game activities into their instructional plans, some students are already tapping into online games outside of school to support their self?directed interests in academic topics. Approximately one quarter of middle school students have played an online game outside of school on their own, specifically to learn something. The percentage jumps to almost 50 percent amongst boys and girls who consider their technology skills advanced.

“I play games that develop critical thinking skills and analysis of situations. I play strategy games that are involved, complicated, and a real challenge. I learn about things that I am interested in by internet research and I have learned much about what I want to do and what areas I am interested in. I like this learning style because it teaches me about what I want to know and helps to make me more prepared for a job in a field that I am interested in".

(Boy, Grade 9, Jacksonville, Florida)

Read more:

The New Digital Learning Playbook: Understanding the Spectrum of Students’ Activities and Aspirations is the first in a two part series to document the key national findings from Speak Up 2013.

For the past eleven years, Project Tomorrow’s® annual Speak Up National Research Project has provided schools and districts nationwide and throughout the globe with new insights into how today’s students want to leverage digital tools for learning based upon the authentic, unfiltered ideas of students themselves.  With this year’s national report on the views of 325,279 K-12 students representing over 9,000 schools and 2,700 districts nationwide, we focus on getting beyond the anecdotally- driven stereotypes of student technology use to establish a more comprehensive understanding of the myriad of different ways that students are currently personalizing learning using technology.

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