Educational gaming on the rise, but funding remains a challenge

Teachers most often use literacy or math games in the classroom.

In a national survey, teachers say they believe that using digital games in the classroom helps students maintain concentration and enthusiasm for learning, while making it easier for teachers to differentiate instruction and assess students.

The survey of 505 teachers who use digital games in their K-8 classrooms aims to identify what teachers think about game-based learning and how digital games affect students beyond academic achievement. It offers a mix of qualitative interviews with quantitative data to offer a more rounded picture of teacher opinions.

The survey, Teacher Attitudes about Digital Games in the Classroom, released by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop in collaboration with and support from BrainPOP, was released at the NewSchools Venture Fund-Aspen Institute Summit in San Francisco.

The majority of teachers in the survey are K-5 classroom teachers, one-fifth are special education teachers, and 86 percent teach in public schools. K-5 teachers reported higher game usage than middle school teachers: 57 percent versus 38 percent, respectively.

Teachers who said they are “very or moderately comfortable” using digital games in the classrom also use games more frequently with their students. Thirty-two percent use games 2-4 times per week, and 18 percent use them every day.

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A large majority of teachers (70 percent) said they agree that using digital games increases motivation and engagement with content and curriculum, and 62 percent said using games in the classroom makes it easier for them to level lessons and effectively teach a range of learners. Sixty percent said using digital games helps personalize instruction, helps them assess student knowledge better, and helps them collect helpful data.

Three in five teachers also said they believe that games encourage more collaboration among students and help students to keep their focus on specific tasks.

Fewer than 10 percent of teachers said they experienced negative side effects when it came to using digital games, such as delayed content delivery (8 percent), behavioral issues with lower-performing students (7.7 percent), or increased conflict between students (5.1 percent).

Laura Ascione

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