A daily dose of computer games can boost maths attainment, according to a study carried out in Scottish schools.
Learning and Teaching Scotland – the main organisation for the development of the curriculum – analysed the effect of a “brain training” game. It also found improvements in pupils’ concentration and behaviour.
The study involved more than 600 pupils in 32 schools across Scotland using the Brain Training from Dr Kawashima game on the Nintendo DS every day. The project followed a pilot study in Dundee last year.
LTS worked with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education and the University of Dundee to see if the pilot results were replicated on a wider scale.
A group of pupils played the game, which included reading tests, problem-solving exercises and memory puzzles, for 20 minutes at the start of their class for nine weeks. A control group continued their lessons in a more traditional manner. The pupils were tested at the beginning and then the end of the study. Researchers found that while all groups had improved their scores, the group using the game had improved by a further 50%. The time taken to complete the tests also dropped by five minutes, from 18.5 minutes to 13.5 minutes. The improvement in the games group was double that of the control group.
Less able children were found to be more likely to improve than the highest attainers and almost all pupils had an increased perception of their own ability. The study also found that it made no difference if the children had the game at home and noted no difference in ability between girls or boys.
It found improvements in absence and lateness in some classes. Derek Robertson, LTS’s national adviser for emerging technologies and learning, said the results offered the first independent, academic evidence that this type of computer game could improve attainment when used in an educational context.
He said: “Computer games help flatten out the hierarchy that exists in schools – they are in the domain of the learner as opposed to the domain of the school. “This intervention encouraged all children to engage and get success in a different contextual framework; one in which they don’t know their place.”