Asgedet ‘Segi’ Stefanos – The Researched Benefits of Electronic Games October 5, 2007Posted by ficial in conference, games, NERCOMP, NERCOMP20071001Games.
Conference Report: Nercomp – Learning From Video Games: Designing Digital Curriculums – second session
The second presentation was by professor Asgedet ‘Segi’ Stefanos, Ed.D., of College of Public and Community Service at UMass Boston, on The Researched Benefits of Electronic Games. Segi organized her presentation around Howard Gardener’s multiple intelligence framework. [I have to admit I’m a bit dubious as to the validity of the larger theory, and I think using it to organize research on games in education misses some important ways in which games are useful.]
[I’ve had a difficult time writing a post on this presentation because I think it wasn’t very good. I’ve waffled about how much opinion and commentary to include and finally decided to be up front about my impressions – this is a blog and part of the point is to give my views on things, not just to report.
Segi seemed like and interesting, smart, and nice person and I wish her well in her research (More research on games! Yes!), BUT I think she needs to improve this presentation if she’s going to use it again, and I think her research would benefit from dedicating some time to playing a bunch of games.]
Video and computer gaming is a new/recent area of research for her. [It felt like she’s done a lot of secondary research but not much looking at and playing with games. Whether that’s actually the case I don’t know, but it’s the impression I got from the general statements she presented.]
So, for each kind of intelligence in Gardener’s list she presented some points about how video and computer [Are they the same thing? I don’t think so, but they’re closely related]. The various points indicated ways in which games could potentially be of benefit to that area of intelligence, but she didn’t get into how or example games.
- ability to modify game rules is a feature of gaming.
- complex skills are taught in games
- failure in problem solving leads to better decision making
An interesting point she raised is that cheat codes are a local modification of rules. ‘Cheat’ is a very pejorative term and doesn’t mesh well with many educational goals, but exploring them can be useful and appropriate. Also, players get and take info from many sources (actual guides/docs, other games, general experience/knowledge, community) and do very complex reasoning.
- Sound explorations develop listening strategies and the capacity to pay attention to their own musical sensation
Kinesthetic / body
- Interactive media can shrink the distance between the representational act and the factual behavior. This can have a positive impact in terms of learning.
- Video games facilitate representational competence: visual skills, mental rotation, and spatial visualization.
- Visual selective attention is developed through video game play. I.e. people figure out what’s important watch and what can safely be ignored.
- teams working towards a common goal learn from each other
- the presence of others in a game influence the action of the individuals
- role playing and interrelationship between game characters enhance social skills
- turn taking / non-aggression through watching
Intrapersonal – capacity to understand ones self
- games have clear and achievable goals that are easily accessible (and have immediate rewards).
- they are intrinsically motivating because they balance challenge and skills [they are intrinsically motivating, but I don’t at all believe that having a balance of challenge and skill is the primary reason why; at best that kind of balance is a necessary but not sufficient requirement]
- video games can increase concentration and improve productivity for increasing tasks [but can they do it for anything other than video games?]
- self confidence is developed through skill appropriate challenges
- games can help learners see interconnections between geography, economics, politics, etc.
Linguistics – sensitivity to spoken word
- no research [that the speaker could find. She had never heard of text adventure games nor any of the work done on / with them – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_adventure_game is a good place to start poking around]
She concludes that they have the capacity to draw on the 8 intelligences framework, and that they can be effective tools for learning and curriculum development.
[This talk seems like a good example of why educators are dubious about games. There are a lot of claims, but not much indication of how, why, or even if transfer occurs out of games and into school or the rest of life. This reminds me of science writers who talking about nano-computing and super-miniature circuits – they equate the capability of making a NAND gate to creating a pill-sized super-computer in the next few years.
ALSO, if transfer does occur, then that says interesting things about violent games.
Using the 8 intelligences misses out on what I think are some very useful and interesting aspects of gaming. Two that come to mind off hand are exploration of the potentially complex moral and ethical questions that arise in games (both within the game and at the meta game level), and the philosophical exploration of what is a game and why play them.]