Three Research-Based Guidelines for Implementing Games Into Instruction

A number of meta-analyses (statistical methods for contrasting and combining results from different studies) have been conducted in the field of game-based learning attempting to create widely usable findings that can help instructional designers select and create meaningful educational and instructional game experiences. Here are three guidelines culled from research on the subject. 1. Embed the Instructional Game Into the Curriculum Games should be embedded in instructional programs that include debriefing and feedback so learners understand what happened in the game and how these events support the instructional objectives. The best learning outcomes from using a game in the classroom occur when a three-step process is followed. This process ensures that learning occurs from playing the game. Sources: 2. Games Need to Include Instructional Support In games without instructional support, participants will tend to learn how to play the game rather than learn domain-specific knowledge embedded in the game. Instructional support to help learners understand how to use the game increases the effectiveness of the gaming experience by allowing them to focus on the instructional information rather than the requirements of the game. Instructional support features can include elaborative feedback, pedagogical agents, and multi-modal information presentation. Sources: 3. Ensure Game Objectives Align with Curriculum Objectives Learning outcomes achieved through computer games depend largely on how educationalists align learning (such as learning subject areas and learning purposes), learner characteristics, and game-based pedagogy with the design of an instructional game. In other words, if the game objectives match the curriculum objectives, disconnects are avoided between the game design and curricular goals. The more closely aligned curriculum goals and game goals, the more the learning outcomes of the game will match the desired learning outcomes of the student. Sources: Want to learn more about game design? Join Karl for the LearnNow: Game Design event, December 8-9 in San Francisco.

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