Social-Emotional Learning

Report: Minecraft Builds Problem-Solving and Empathy Skills in Students

Many K–12 teachers who use Minecraft: Education Edition during class say their students are experiencing a number of social-emotional learning (SEL) benefits, according to a recent survey.

Getting Smart partnered with Microsoft to explore potential connections between Minecraft and SEL. The report, “How Minecraft Supports Social and Emotional Learning in K–12 Education,” is based on interviews, surveys and case studies with education experts.

In the context of K–12 education, the report defines SEL as “the process through which students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions."

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Details on the latest Minecraft: Education Edition 1.0.1 release can be found here.

To that end, teachers have observed that playing Minecraft during class positively impacts their students’ decision-making and communication skills (cited by 88.8 percent and 86.6 percent of respondents respectively). When students are working in groups, about half of teachers noted seeing them start to build empathy skills.

Nearly all teachers surveyed agreed that the top SEL skills learned through the sandbox game are problem-solving (cited by 97.7 percent), creativity (95.5 percent), critical thinking (93.3 percent) and collaboration (91.1 percent).

One teacher at the International School Bellevue School District (Bellevue, WA), for instance, reported using Minecraft in her seventh grade earth sciences class to engage students in serious global issues, like tsunamis and other natural disaster.

“Building illustrative 3D models in a virtual world enables her student teams of research scientists, engineers, media specialists and project managers to connect and collaborate on a meaningful project … with a sense of autonomy and personal accountability,” the report noted. “This type of project-based learning is collaborative at its core, so there’s an exciting opportunity created for educators and learners when it can be accomplished with a game that is familiar and accessible.”

The full report is available for free on the Getting Smart site

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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