What makes game-based learning so effective and how does it work?

Students learn best with games

When we think of games, we often think of them as somewhat trivial or just for fun, but can a game-based learning environment really change the way students learn and teachers teach?

Researchers agree that people learn best in a game environment, more than any other traditional form of instruction, but why?

Think Through Math game screensPeople love games. We like to have fun and we especially like to win. This goes without saying, but holds true in a learning environment as well. Winning doesn’t necessarily imply there is a loser. Some of the best game-based instructional tools provide students with a judgement-free learning environment, helping them achieve many small wins over time that lead to higher motivation and less stress. This counters the pass / fail model of testing and evaluations, allowing students to focus more on learning the material and improving on to the next level.

Game-based learning programs can also foster a spirit of classroom collaboration if structured with a common goal in mind, such as points leading to a party or charitable donations. These activities help motivate students to work hard and push through obstacles in order to achieve a collective win.


Math Games that Work!

Schools that implement online game-based learning programs into their regular teaching practices do particularly well in reaching students who typically struggle with subjects such as math. Understanding the process is crucial in mathematics and games keep students engaged and excited about learning while various motivational tools provide the quick wins and student collaboration necessary to help transition classrooms from a fixed mindset to that of a growth mindset.

Game-based learning has been proven to be particularly effective in mathematics as students can quickly become frustrated or lose confidence in their abilities if not keeping up with their peers. And let’s face it, math can be hard! Students feel comfortable in a gaming environment as it allows for “safe failure” and personalized attention.

Helping students stay in a positive mindset while struggling with mathematics can be difficult without additional resources. Many schools are turning to game-based learning programs as a supplemental tool for math intervention, remedial math support, or summer learning programs.

Games are great for:

  • Math Response to Invention (RTI)
  • Remedial Math Support
  • Summer Learning Programs
  • Blended Learning Environments
  • Supplemental Mathematics Support
  • State Exam Preparation

Game-based learning has become an integral part of building an exceptional math classroom, particularly one in which students begin the year in need of extra support.

For more information on implementing game-based learning at your school or district, download our free e-book, “10 Characteristics of an Exceptional Math Classroom.”