A new report by the UK-based Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute found that three out of five 11-16 year-old students surveyed would like to use computer games to learn in school. The report was commissioned by Teaching with Games, a one-year research project led by education company Futurelab with support from Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Take-Two, as well as the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE).
The research, which surveyed 2,334 11-16 year-old students in England and Wales, examined students' attitudes toward mainstream computer games in order to help to determine how such games may be integrated into school curriculum.
The study was conducted using questionnaires in 100 classroom sessions between February 24 and May 18 this year, and found that younger children were more likely to play games than those who are older. 46 percent of 11 year olds noted in the survey that they play games every day compared with 25 percent of 15-16 year olds. Additionally, the survey found that, of those who did not want to use games at school, 38 percent would rather play them at home - implying that they see education and computer games as separate activities.
In addition, 66 percent of 11 year-olds indicted that they were more likely to want to use computer games in school, compared to 49 percent of 15-16 year-olds. Nearly 90 percent of those who said they would like to use games at school agreed that it would make lessons more interesting. However, those surveyed also noted that they believe games can have negative effects such as reinforcing stereotypical views of people.
The report noted that in general the idea of playing computer games in school was seen by those surveyed as a positive, regardless of whether or not students were in favor of their use in the classroom. The report also found that more than two-thirds of those questioned thought that games would improve their computer skills and just under half thought that they would help to improve strategic thinking skills such as problem solving.
Holly Adams, a student from John Cabot City Technology College in Bristol who took part in Teaching with Games, sums up her experience of using games in the classroom: "People were keen to learn using games because it was a different way to do lessons which everyone found fun and interesting."
Mike Rumble, Curriculum Adviser at the Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA) echoed this sentiment: "Young people play computer games not because they are easy or mindless, but precisely because they are the opposite of that - they are hard." He continues: "The outcome of this research will inform further development of learning technologies and the issues that teachers may need to consider when using games software in school."