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Games are the Natural Way Children Learn

A few years ago, the multiple-choice, quiz-style apps were rising in popularity in education. As a teacher, my favorite was Quizizz, and I used it a lot for test review games with the students. But, as great as these games were, there were some downfalls that made them ineffective for some students.

The biggest struggles I saw were among students who did not have a strong grasp on the content and struggled during class play to get high marks. The same 4 or 5 students always got the highest scores. Then there was a group of students who would try harder and harder, working to improve their scores. And then there were the struggling students. Those students were embarrassed when they repeatedly scored at the bottom of the list. I remember that it was important to me to only highlight the winners and not let the students see the whole class list, as it really upset the students at the bottom.

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Now, Quizizz and other similar apps have been evolving and developing even more over the past few years, and I have seen a lot more positivity in them. Some games even add random point factors that have nothing to do with knowledge or skill. Although this may seem unfair or illogical, the point of the games is to get practice, and enabling more students to have a chance at winning the game has improved the positivity among students.

In a study focused on implementation of the Kahoot educational gaming platform, students were more motivated to participate and showed a strong preference for lessons using Kahoot. The students utilizing the game also had a slight, if significant improvement in scores when compared to the control group. Indeed, gaming has been found to have positive effects on mental wellness and functioning. Perhaps, as we move beyond simple quiz games and into the ever-increasing array of educational games, we may find more positive experiences for our students.

In his 2019 Tedx Talk, Andre Thomas notes that some of children’s earliest learning is literally game and play-based. He encourages game play in schools, with an argument that this is how people naturally learn.

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