Playing educational video games either competitively or collaboratively
with another player can enhance students' motivation to learn, a new
study has found.
While playing a math video game collaboratively - as
compared to playing alone - students adopted a mastery mindset that is
highly conducive to learning, researchers said.
Moreover, students' interest and enjoyment in playing the math video game increased when they played with another student.
The findings point to new ways in which computer, console, or mobile educational games may yield learning benefits.
found support for claims that well-designed games can motivate students
to learn less popular subjects, such as math, and that game-based
learning can actually get students interested in the subject matter?and
can broaden their focus beyond just collecting stars or points," said
Jan Plass, a professor in New York University's Steinhardt School of
Culture, Education, and Human Development and one of the study's lead
"Educational games may be able to help circumvent major
problems plaguing classrooms by placing students in a frame of mind that
is conducive to learning rather than worrying about how smart they
look," added co-lead author Paul O'Keefe, an NYU postdoctoral fellow at
the time of the study.
The researchers focused on how students'
motivation to learn, as well as their interest and performance in math,
was affected by playing a math video game either individually,
competitively, or collaboratively.
Researchers had middle-school
students play the video game FactorReactor, which is designed to build
math skills through problem solving and therefore serves as diagnostic
In order to test the impact of different settings on
learning, students were randomly assigned to play the game alone,
competitively against another student, or collaboratively with another
The findings revealed that students who played the math
game either competitively or collaboratively reported the strongest
mastery goal orientations, which indicates that students adopted an
optimal mindset for learning while playing the video game with others.
The study appears in the Journal of Educational Psychology.