Entire Dissertation


The field of game-based learning is expected to grow to more than $125,000,000 in 2006. However, Dr. Jan Cannon-Bowers (2006), eminent researcher in the field of the science of learning, recently challenged the efficacy of game-based learning: “We are charging head-long into game-based learning without knowing if it works or not. We need studies.” The problem addressed by this study was the lack of research into the effectiveness of game-based learning. The problem affects academia, parents, organizations involved in training, and of course, students. The purpose was to explore the relationship between the use of video games and learning. Research questions revolved around the effects of video game use on overall class scores, gender-based scores, ethnic-based scores, and age-based scores.

A causal-comparative study was conducted at ABC University to examine the difference in academic achievement between students who did and did not use video games in learning. A video game was added to half the classes teaching 3rd year management students. Identical testing situations were used while data collected included game use, test scores, gender, ethnicity, and age. ANOVA, chi-squared, and t tests were used to test game use effectiveness.

Students in classes using the game scored significantly higher means than classes that did not. There were no significant differences between genders, yet both genders scored significantly higher with game play. There were no significant differences between ethnicities, yet all ethnic groups scored significantly higher with game play. Students 40 years and under scored significantly higher with game play, while students 41 and older did not.

Such significant increases in student learning could lead to positive social change as games and simulations become standard teaching tools. If further studies continue to prove the efficacy of game-based learning, America’s educational system faces a revolution in learning.

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