Researchers Study Effects of Educational Games on Math Achievement


Do educational video games have an impact on students' ongoing achievement in mathematics? Researchers at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington are studying just how effective a learning tool games really are.

The study, being conducted by instructors at the university's Watson School of Education, will involve 500 students and 15 teachers, trainers, and administrators from four middle schools located in eastern North Carolina. The educational standards-based video games used in the study are part of the DimensionM series from ed tech developer Tabula Digita. Comparable in some ways to many games designed primarily for entertainment, they offer graphics, sound effects, storylines, and multiple levels, but with the added component of middle school level math problems, including algebra, that challenge and test the players' skill and build understanding of the underlying mathematical concepts being presented.

"We hope our research will serve to explain further how playing serious, high quality, interactive games influences mathematics achievement and self-efficacy in math," said Albert Ritzhaupt, assistant professor in the Watson School of Education and leader of the study. "Equally important will be to gain a greater understanding of how students react to and interact with gaming in the classroom and how teachers respond to those unique student actions."

Ritzhaupt, who teaches a course in instructional technology at UNC-W entitled Games, Simulations, and Virtual Worlds, specializes in the relationship between technology and education. The DimensionM study is set to run until the end of May, and Ritzhaupt plans to release his team's results later this summer.

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Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.