Research shows that the more extensively esports programs are implemented, the greater the gains

Build ‘beyond the game’ for max esports impact


Research shows that the more extensively an esports program is implemented, the greater the gains

NASEF continues to evaluate impacts on key variables and improve its programs accordingly. As always, the focus is not on gaming but on factors for student academic, social and emotional growth, including:

  • STEM interest
  • Communication
  • Constructive Mindset (toward learning)
  • School Engagement
  • Self-Regulation
  • Relationships with Others
  • Wellness
  • GPA
  • School Attendance
  • Student attitudes toward NASEF and its program
  • Whether positive outcomes are equitable for all students

While specific structures are created individually by schools and out-of-school organizations, all clubs in NASEF offer students the opportunity to participate in a variety of “Beyond the Game” roles. The majority of NASEF students are members of competitive teams, but nearly a quarter (22%) also serve in other roles such as team manager, gameplay analyst, artist, or streamer. The goal is for students to experience various options as they consider education and career choices, at the same time building portfolio pieces they can showcase on college and job applications.

In 2022, the governing body for sports in California, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), made a shift and selected NASEF as its esports partner based on its strength in connecting education to gameplay. “There are many CIF member schools currently engaged in esports and we are excited to align with NASEF as they provide an additional education-based opportunity for all our students and member schools,” said CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti. In a press release, CIF said this collaboration is a model for state athletic associations around the country who also have an objective to develop student-athletes of character and promote quality academics.

In its evaluation, UCI suggested that NASEF continue its focus there:

By improving on key aspects of NASEF’s current robust career pathways programme, we can prepare students for professional internships and job applications, effective both in and out of university. Building connections and getting advice from professionals will ensure that students trust the information they are given. Students should leave NASEF programs not only with a high-quality secondary education and professional skillsets but also with a knowledge of how to make those skills visible to academia and industry. Whether it be resume, portfolio, and reel development, or individual CTE programs that grant exposure to fields and techniques, experiences should be widely available and engaging, applicable well beyond the scope of higher education and industry, and – most importantly – of value to students who need them.

To that end, several NASEF programs have been designed specifically to provide assistance for both college and career planning and exploration.

To help students with choosing a college and major, as well as succeeding in college programs, NASEF has partnered with the National Association of Collegiate Esports. In one joint livestream, leading collegiate esports directors offered students valuable advice ranging from esports talent and persistence to getting good grades and being “clean” on social media if they want to succeed. Recordings of this series of livestreams with collegiate program directors and coaches are available on YouTube, and additional conversations will be offered in the new school year. Blogs and videos are consistently provided to help students explore their options and find their niche.

NASEF students are encouraged to build a digital portfolio through our partnership with Tallo, an online platform that connects the next generation of talent with opportunities. Colleges, companies, and organizations can identify and connect with students who have demonstrated interests and skillsets. In the spring, NASEF, Tallo, and NACE partnered to host an esports college fair. Over the course of the event, more than 14,000 matches were made between students and esports recruiters, and more than 1,000 conversations took place. In the new area of esports study and competition, these early connections are important. With our goal of personal development in addition to gameplay, NASEF was thrilled to see the career interests of the students:

As scholastic esports continues to be recognized for its power to connect learning and play, the first step for any educator is to just get started! A small program will quickly gain momentum; many of the articles in this issue of eSchool News provide advice to help you. For the greatest student benefit, UCI’s research makes it clear that a robust program has the most impact on students:

We defined “extent of program” quantitatively in terms of the richness of resources and amount of activity, including: the number of club staff members, student roles occupied, competitions attended, and game titles played. Tests examining the relationship between these variables and student outcomes reveal multiple significant, positive patterns of association. Among the patterns found, club staff size correlates positively with STEM interest, school engagement, and relationships, suggesting that the more adults involved, the more students engage in academic content. Higher numbers of differentiated student club roles correlate with higher GPA, implying that students who are able to participate in more roles within their club perform better academically. Students in clubs that participate in a larger number of competitions showed higher school engagement, and students in clubs that play a larger variety of game titles show higher levels of communication and social relationships. Finally, clubs that take advantage of more of NASEF’s resources show greater student wellness overall.

[Also,] students in school sites where an esports classroom curriculum is available show higher gains in communication and relationships than students in schools without it. These findings suggest that schools with greater commitment to esports may foster greater academic and social gains.

As UC Irvine’s research demonstrates, across a wide variety of schools and community organizations, the more extensive the program version that is implemented, the greater the gains. That is why NASEF continues to offer the opportunity to join free, offers its curriculum and tournaments free, and provides its in-depth training and professional development. NASEF’s goal is to help educators worldwide build programs that don’t just entertain, they ensure that ALL students possess the knowledge and skills needed to be society’s game changers.

Laura Ascione

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.