National study into the impact of gaming and gamification on learning

Published

Paul Howard Jones, professor of neuroscience and education at the University of Bristol is heading up a major study into the impact of gaming strategies on learning.  

Professor Howard Jones conducted research during the summer with students at Bristol University. Participants were taught in a brain scanner using three different conditions: a conventional exemplar question, a multiple-choice quiz and a computer-based game in which they competed with one another for increasing but uncertain rewards. 

Professor Howard-Jones said that the brain imaging showed that as students studied, activation increased in a network of the brain associated with mind wandering and daydreaming. But as the session became more game-based this mind-wandering network decreased in activity and it was found that students gained correspondingly higher scores when they were later tested.

He said: “Technology has a reputation for doing bad stuff to children’s brains: this is evidence that the reverse can be true if we are careful about how we design and develop it.”

“We have all seen how children’s noses are stuck to their gaming consoles. We think that we are beginning to identify what that magic glue is and are able to put it into games that teach the curriculum.”

The larger classroom study, planned in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, is due to start in September and will gather data from 10,000 secondary school pupils. Any ASDAN centres that wish to participate in the study can find out more via the Sci-napse website.