Game-based learning: latest evidence and future directions

Executive summary

This review is the first output in the Innovation in Education strand of NFER’s research programme. This strand will provide evidence about new approaches to education, teaching and learning and aims to identify rewarding learning experiences that will inspire, challenge and engage all young people, equipping them with the essential skills and attitudes for life, learning and work in the 21st Century. Interest around the use of video games in education is high, and following the emergence of new trends like ‘gamification’, Futurelab@NFER felt that it was timely to provide educators, industry and researchers with an up-to-date analysis of the literature.

To achieve this, we conducted a rapid review of the latest available evidence, seeking to answer these research questions:

  • What is game-based learning?
  • What is the impact and potential impact of game-based learning on learners' engagement and attainment?
  • What is the nature and extent of the evidence base?
  • What are the implications for schools?

The research questions are mainly concerned with the notion of ‘gameplay’ (playing games) rather than ‘making games’ (how the prospect of creating original video games can be used to interest young people in complex activities like software programming).

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