Game-Based Learning

Relative Advantage of Using Games for Content Area Learning


As the picture above suggests, learning by engagement is key. As a technology instructional coach more often than not the goal that teachers and I develop together is one surrounding increasing student engagement through some form of meaningful technology integration. The relative advantages of game-based learning includes the increase of student engagement, building real-world skills,  and also developing students level of growth, not solely promoting end goal learning.

One major advantage of using game-based learning in the classroom is to increase student engagement through high levels of motivation. In 2012, Dr. Rutledge stated that “the balance of skill and challenge keeps the player’s brain aroused, attention engaged and motivation high”. Students will be motivated to work within an attainable goal at their own level of growth. And of course this isn’t a new concept as Vygotsky explored this idea with this research into “zone of proximal development” in the 1970s. Students will be motivated to grow beyond their individual means with scaffolding or feedback, of which gaming has plenty of both.

Gaming in schools can also help to build students’ literacy skills. Forever humans have been storytellers and Dr. Justin Marquis (2012) would argue that video games and gaming are only the most recent form of human storytelling. While reading and writing have a prominent  place in education we should begin to see games joining that field as skills needed to manipulate and interact with the game grow a students capabilities. Marquis (2012) stated that  “the incredible versatility of games and their ever-increasing ability to provide rich, realistic simulations of any environment, interaction, or situation could make them as or more valuable than traditional reading, particularly if it is shown that they can be used to activate the brain in new ways.”

Neurologist Judy Willis (2011) describes the absolute positive learning growth experience through gaming as an environment where students seek harder challenges as the feedback along the way to so appreciated and positive to the learner. Willis describes this as a dopamine effect that arises as student seek similar pleasurable experiences after having received positive experiences from past positive feedback (Willis, 2011). Students become more interested in repeating experiences that were pleasurable and the continued feedback of gaming makes this an ideal learning experience. This isn’t to say that students will continue to get 100% of a game correct every time, but rather they will work hard through failures in order to achieve success.

Check out my lesson plan for using gaming in the elementary language arts classroom.


Marquis, Justin. (2012). Building Social Skills and Literacy Through Gaming. OnlineUniversities (2012). Retrieve from

Rutledge, P. B. (2012). Video Games, Problem Solving, and Self-Efficacy. PsycEXTRA Dataset. Retrieved from

Willis, Judy. (2011). A Neurologist Makes the Case for the Video Game Model as a Learning Tool. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society. In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner & E. Souberman (Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


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