Game-Based Learning Validation Study – Where Do We Go From Here?

Our year-long game-based learning validation study has inspired teachers worldwide who are interested in pursuing gaming in the classroom. According to the study, participating teachers agreed that ARTé: Mecenas and Variant: Limits had a positive impact on student engagement, motivation to learn and knowledge acquisition.

But that’s not all. The study also gave researchers an opportunity to weigh in and make some recommendations based on teacher feedback to further advance the game-based learning market.

Recommendation #1: Consider and further investigate cross-national differences
Developing a game that aligns with academic standards across multiple countries and cultures is no small feat. What’s applicable in one classroom may not be in another. For example, we learned that the range of content of ARTé: Mecenas was less relevant for the curriculum in Norway, but seemed too restricted for the curriculum of Italy, where they do a deeper dive into the Renaissance. Language also proved to be both a barrier and an opportunity. Our games are currently developed in English, which for some was difficult to implement in the classroom, but for others helped them improve upon their English language skills. We are also working on localizing our games based on interest and market potential in specific countries.

Recommendation #2: Consider and enhance teachers’ preparation and support
All participating teachers were involved in face-to-face trainings and webinars prior to using the games in their classrooms. That said, it was clear that careful technical and pedagogical preparation, as well as ongoing support for teachers is vital. This isn’t specific to our games, but rather game-based learning in general. Game-related exchanges (forums, chats and other learning networks) not only make teachers feel supported, they boost camaraderie, connections and ideas.

Recommendation #3: Review, amend and add didactic and pedagogical materials
Instructional and informative materials can help teachers build on the experiences of teachers more seasoned in game-based learning. Specifically, scenarios that were used in the validation study would be of value to future game-based learning instructors. For example, newer teachers may want to follow the approach used by many of the study’s participating teachers whereby they used the games in a flipped classroom setting, allowing students to play both at home and at school, which gave students room to play freely and minimized the classroom time needed.

Recommendation #4: Strengthen and further research game-based learning
The positive outcomes in our study spurred a desire for additional information and research, among more classrooms and involving more games. Because study results suggest the powerful potential of game-based learning, there is an urgency to capitalize on these results and further practice and promote the act of learning through games.

We would like to express a huge thank you to our partners and European Schoolnet and the evaluation team at The University of Würzberg for giving us the insights we can act upon. As a trailblazer in game-based learning, we’ve come a long way, but there is still so much to learn, to do and to achieve!