How Game-Based Learning is Impacting the Educational Experience

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Game-based learning is an innovative form of instruction and creates an immersive learning experience, but is it all hype? We'll discuss the effects of game play in education, including where games work and don't work, the impact on curriculum and assessment, what the research says, and how faculty and students are embracing it.


I am a research assistant, teaching assistant, and PhD student in Instructional Systems and Learning Technology at Florida State University. Before embarking on my PhD, I developed the secondary math program at a nationally recognized charter school and was the lead secondary math teacher for the school. I believe that math is power and desire to encourage learners to discover for themselves the wonder and excitement I have found in the STEM fields. My research interests center around the design, development and evaluation of interactive learning technologies in secondary education. Spending time with my family is what I enjoy most. As the mom of a toddler, there is never a dull moment. I also enjoy games of all sorts, from board games to digital games to a newly found love of escape/breakout games. I have played sports (basketball, volleyball, and softball) most of my life and enjoy keeping up with the women’s collegiate and professional basketball leagues. I love most foods, but I often joke that I could not survive without my coffee and dark chocolate.

Extended Abstract

All video games are inherently a learning tool. Gamers are inspired to attempt new methods and solutions, and continue trying until they are rewarded and/or advance to the next challenge or level. It's the desire for the "epic win" that pushes them to keep playing.

Game play in higher education is emerging as an effective means to teach and motivate, yet while the phenomenon is intriguing, it is anything but widespread. Proponents of game-based learning (GBL) argue that it empowers students, drives them to apply concepts and prove mastery, and brings curriculum to life. Naysayers worry about costs and curriculum fit, and argue that game objectives are not always tied closely enough to the learning outcomes of a course.

Join Triseum and Florida State University for an interactive discussion on the growing body of research on the effects of game play and enhanced cognitive skills. This session will describe how dynamic interactions provide a contextual experience; how timely in-game feedback can motivate and guide learners to continue practicing; how persistence during game play may be higher than other forms of educational technology; and how some games have the potential to enhance acquisition of basic technical skills. Research, testing results and first-hand experience using games to augment classroom instruction will be shared, exploring ways in which students can achieve that epic win.

Discussion will also include cautionary tales with audience members so they understand where and how game based learning can be most effective and where it might fall short. Session content will explore lessons learned in the game development process; the importance of rigorous scientific standards and research; how to meet the expectations of tech-savvy students who are accustomed to highly sophisticated and imaginative games; and how to balance the fun and engaging aspects of gaming with true academic rigor.

Engagement strategies:
Educators will be asked if and how their institutions are embracing game-based learning, from anticipation and excitement to anxiety and concern. Audience members will have the opportunity to hear if and how their peers are soliciting campus-wide and departmental feedback and buy in, discuss their own experience with game-based learning, and learn how to decipher fact from fiction when it comes to gaming assumptions and trends.

Session outcomes:
During this session, educators will:

  • Explore the power of game-based learning, where it works and where it doesn't.
  • Discover a body of research to share with peers as institutions consider implementing Game-Based Learning.
  • Explain the role of gaming within the greater context of curriculum and assessment.