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Simulations and Games Offer Learning Potential

Playing Video Games

Computer simulations and games offer “great potential” to assist inquiry-based science learning, according to a report by the National Research Council.

“Simulations and games have potential to advance multiple science learning goals, including motivation to learn science, conceptual understanding, science process skills, understanding of the nature of science, scientific discourse and argumentation, and identification with science and science learning.”

Both simulations and games are based on computer models. Simulations “allow users to explore the implications of manipulating or modifying parameters within them. Games are often played in informal contexts for fun, incorporate explicit goals and rules, and provide feedback on the player’s progress. In a game, the player’s actions affect the state of play.”

The study said both may fit in well with a new approach to science teaching in which “teachers spark students’ interest by engaging them in investigations, helping them to develop understanding of both science concepts and science processes, while maintaining motivation for science learning.

More research is needed to assess the effectiveness of simulations and games, but the study says both are “worthy of future investment and investigation.”

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