News

This game could improve behavior—and achievement

By Dennis Pierce
July 16th, 2015

Research suggests that social and emotional learning can lead to achievement gains

gaming-selCan playing a game help students—especially those with disabilities or special needs—improve their behavior, learn empathy, and increase academic performance? The founder of gaming monolith Electronic Arts thinks so, and he’s not alone.

“A game allows so much opportunity for playful and creative repetition in a way that deepens the learning of these skills,” said Janice Toben, an educational consultant and co-founder of the Institute for SEL. “It’s exciting to think that this can be happening with information [from the game] being sent to teachers and parents as well.”

Toben’s organization is grounded in social and emotional learning—a process by which students learn to recognize and manage their emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviors.

During a recent webinar with Trip Hawkins, the EA founder, which was part of a special education series by PresenceLearning, Toben explained that the approach is not soft—but rather rooted in neuroscience. She also pointed to research suggesting a clear correlation between SEL and academic achievement.

Next page: A game-based approach