When kids hear the word “games,” their brains light up like a Christmas Tree with excitement and motivation to take on a challenge rather than cowering in fear at the thought of a boring old subject. Do you know children’s love of games can help them improve their math skills?
Believe it or not, studies have shown that certain video games improve spatial reasoning and mental rotation abilities, essential for understanding tricky concepts like geometry and algebra. Additionally, video games help foster problem-solving and critical-thinking skills because children must apply logic and strategy to progress through levels and defeat bosses.
For instance, the puzzle game “Tetris” has been proven to improve spatial reasoning abilities in as little as 30 minutes a day over the course of three months. “DragonBox” can improve algebraic skills.
How are Video Games Improving Math Skills?
Enhancing Cognitive Skills
Video games have been found to enhance a range of cognitive skills, including memory, attention, and perception. Action games, in particular, improves visual-spatial skills, which are essential for geometry and mental rotation.
Playing action video games can also enhance contrast sensitivity, which is the ability to detect subtle changes in shades of gray, says a study by JAMA Network Open (2022). This skill is required to accomplish tasks such as reading and driving at night. The study found that participants who played action games showed a significant improvement in contrast sensitivity compared to those who played non-action games.
Video games are also great for developing problem-solving skills. Many games require players to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles, which can help develop problem-solving skills, perseverance, and determination. Strategy games, like StarCraft, can improve problem-solving and cognitive flexibility, as well as fluid intelligence, which is the ability to reason and solve new problems.
In these games, players must constantly adapt to changing situations and develop new strategies to win.
Children can also apply the benefits of video games to math skills in the classroom. By incorporating video games into math education, educators can help make learning more fun and engaging.
The findings of Chen and Yan (2019) say playing video games has been found to improve cognitive functions and academic performance. The study found that students who played video games performed better in subjects such as math, science, and reading compared to those who did not play video games.
How Game-based Learning Can Support Strong Mathematical Practices
The social benefit organization MIND Research Institute examines the reasons for the popularity of games and the learning that children can acquire through them. The institute explores how schools can exploit students’ fondness for digital games.
If game-based education is developed effectively, it can tap into students’ natural motivation and enjoyment of play and guide them toward solving intricate problems.
Top video games that can help improve math skills:
- Math Blaster – Incorporates math problems into the gameplay, allowing students to practice arithmetic skills while having fun.
- Math Snacks – Teaches fractions through gameplay. Players run a food truck and must prepare recipes that require fractions.
- DimensionU – This program uses video games to teach math and language arts. Students create avatars and compete in virtual worlds to solve math problems and complete language arts challenges.
- DragonBox – Designed to teach algebra, it presents algebraic concepts in a fun and engaging way, helping students understand algebraic equations and functions.
- Prodigy – Allows students to practice math skills through adventure-style gameplay. The game adapts to the student’s level and progress, providing a personalized learning experience.
- Minecraft – It teaches geometry and spatial reasoning. Players can build and design structures, which requires them to use geometric concepts such as Symmetry and angles.
Video games have been shown to enhance cognitive skills, including math skills, memory, attention, and problem-solving. Action-based or problem-solving games are particularly effective in improving these skills. Math-based games can also make learning more enjoyable and motivate students to practice their math skills. Incorporating video games into math education can help bridge the gender gap in math and provide equal learning opportunities for all students.
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