Better Science Games for Learning

Science learning games are most likely to appeal to teens who are already high science achievers

by John FraserChristina Shane-SimpsonJodi Asbell-Clarke
Jun 30, 2013

Key Findings

Through a survey of 1,502 US teenagers, we explored connections between teens’ science identity, science understanding, and gaming preferences. Teens who preferred collaborative video games were less likely to understand the nature of science. Meanwhile, teens who preferred problem-solving and science-related games were more likely to understand the nature of science. These results suggest that teens who already see themselves as ‘science people’ may be most likely to enjoy science games, and that the potential benefits of learning through gaming do not accrue to the students who most need them.

Let’s Put It to Work

For game developers and designers: To engage the youth who need it most, develop science learning games that focus on social collaboration rather than individual problem-solving.

For educators: Create more opportunities for peer-to-peer collaborative learning in the classroom.

About This Study

EdGE at TERC studied how next-generation, cyber-enabled learning materials could transform students’ STEM learning experiences and enhance their abilities and interests in STEM fields. The team at EdGE developed a series of games to experiment with how youth might connect commonly played free-choice digital games and classroom learning. These games were developed to support and measure players’ standards-based high-school STEM learning. The team at Knology (formerly NewKnowledge) studied the impact of this work. The project was supported by National Science Foundation Grant #DRL-1119144.

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