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Should Students Learn A Musical Instrument Or Play Educational Video Games?

Do you think that educational video games could improve your child’s grades? Do you think that educational video games could teach your child “non-gaming” skills required to achieve success in life?Satta Matka

There is certainly a movement going on in the direction of implementing educational games into the classroom. For better or worse, it will be showing up to a classroom near you. I just don’t want you to get excited just yet.

In this article I will discuss a study done by the DimensionU Gaming Suite, which is becoming a very popular educational video game that schools are beginning to implement in their classrooms. I will then draw a comparison to another “supplemental activity,” which is learning a musical instrument in order to give you a perspective on how to improve your child’s education.

DimensionM is the Math video game of a larger gaming suite called DimensionU that covers other subjects such as Science and Reading. Below you will a read the summary of the study that DimensionU posts on their website.

Case Study: Pender County Study (UNC Wilmington)

Conducted in 2008, this study looks at the effects of DimensionM in the setting of a rural middle school of roughly 500 students, where only 63.1 percent of students were either at or above grade level on state-mandated End-of-Course testing for math.

  • Mean scores increased from 46% on the pre-test to 63% on the post-test
  • Male and female students demonstrated equitable gains

Not bad. The results are certainly encouraging, though after reading the in-depth report, (which I downloaded off their website), I was not as excited as I was when looking at the summary above.

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

My opinion is that the summary is very misleading. They make it sound like they did the study on 500 students. Look above again. Isn’t that how you interpret the first sentence of the study? In actuality, they did the study on 34 students as it states in the full report. Is it me, or is that a big difference? I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being misled.

The truth is that out of 500 students in that particular middle school, only 63.1% of the students were at or above grade level in their end-of-year exams in Math. However, the gaming study was experimented on only 34 of the 500 students. In the full report, these 34 students were all below-average in Math.

Now, let’s look at the first bullet point of the study above. I don’t like the use of the word “mean.” The word sounds too scientific and covers up the real meaning of the point. Instead of “mean scores,” I would prefer “average scores” in this context. We’re not looking at any complex data here. It’s simply the average pre-test scores of the children before they began the “remediation course” or “gaming course” which I prefer to use.

It’s also important to point out that the students who participated in the study were below-average students with failing grades in Math. So certainly, there would be plenty of room for improvement by having an hour of “supplemental” activities every week for 7 weeks as the full report states. The results were that the average pre-test score went from 46% which is clearly a failing grade, to a 63% which is also a failing grade, though greatly improved.

The second bullet point is true and backed up in the report. Both boys and girls improved equally on average.

So What Else Is Wrong About This Study?

There are still some “unknowns” about this study and educational video games in general. One is, (and the full report acknowledges), that we still don’t know what the results would be of the games on standardized test scores. A second unanswered question is, How would the skills attained through educational gaming be useful in non-gaming situations? And thirdly, What are the cognitive processes used to employ these games and how can they be or could be applied to develop other academic and life skills?

I have one more big question about these games, since they claim to have an instructional component to them. DimensionM has an instructional section where students can go to in order to learn the material necessary to move on to the next level in the adventure. They must master the material to advance forward in the game.

I would like to know, if the game asks the exact same question in every level, so that the student can guess and use the process of elimination in order to move to the next level. If that’s the case, what are the students actually learning? They would just be memorizing answers if this is the case. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer because there is no information regarding this issue in the full report.

Is This An Attack On Educational Video Games?

If you’ve read this far, you may infer that I’m attacking DimensionM and other educational video games.

I am not attacking educational video games in general. I am personally in favor of some supplemental activity to improve test scores. Clearly, scores can improve with the implementation of this game. What I am attacking, is the misleading studies that put this game and others in a more favorable light than they should be.

I would like to know if this game would improve the already above-average students’ grades in Math. I would like to know if this game can only improve a failing students grades to barely passable levels, or can it make a good student “great.” I’m thinking about how our students can compete with rest of the world and not just trying to help the below-average ones.

What is the difference between two students that take the same exact class with the same teacher and one fails and the other gets an A? Is it about the parents and the home environment, or something neurological or chemical? Can gaming solve all of these problems?

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