Computer Graphics and Video Games Effects on Learning

Date Added: August 25, 2008 09:22:46 PM
Author: Audrey Rose
For many years people and scientists have been wondering about learning effects associated with computer graphics and video games.

Certain types of video games can have beneficial effects, improving dexterity as well as their ability to solve problems, which have proven useful not only to students but to surgeons, according to research recently discussed at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

In one paper, Fordham University psychologist Fran C. Blumberg, PhD, and Sabrina S. Ismailer, MSED, examined 122 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders' problem-solving behavior while playing a video game that they had never seen before to show that playing video games can improve cognitive and perceptual skills.

As they played the games they were asked to think aloud for 20 minutes.  Then researchers studied their problem solving ability by examining the types of cognitive, goal-oriented, emotional and contextual statements they made while playing these video games.

"Younger children seem more interested in setting short term goals for their learning in the game compared to older children who are more interested in simply playing and the actions of playing," said Blumberg. "Thus, younger children may show a more of a need for focusing on small aspects of a given problem than older children, even in a leisure based situation such as playing video games."

In a second paper, Iowa State University psychologist Douglas Gentile, PhD, and William Stone, BS, described several studies involving high school and college students and laparoscopic surgeons that looked at their video game usage and its effects.  You might think playing these types of games may help improve laparoscopic surgeons.  A study of 33 laparoscopic surgeons found that those who played video games were 27 percent faster at advanced surgical procedures and made 37 percent fewer errors compared to those who did not play video games, said Gentile

The student studies confirmed previous research on effects of playing violent games: Those playing violent games were more hostile, less forgiving and believed violence to be normal compared to those who played nonviolent games. 

Other studies involving students showed that those who played more entertainment games did poorer in school and were at greater risk for obesity.

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Video game skill and experience appear to be significant predictors of suturing capabilities, according to the researchers.  
After controlling for sex, the number of years of medical training and the number of laparoscopic surgeries performed by the people in the study.

A second study of 302 laparoscopic surgeons (81 percent men; 19 percent women) also showed that surgeons who played video games requiring spatial skills and hand dexterity and then performed a drill testing these skills were faster at their first attempt and across all 11 trials than the surgeons who did not the play video games first.

This is what we beleived would come out of this research and further reseach like it.

"The big picture is that there are several dimensions on which games have effects, including the amount they are played, the content of each game, what you have to pay attention to on the screen, and how you control the motions," said Gentile. "This means that games are not 'good' or 'bad,' but are powerful educational tools and have many effects we might not have expected they could."

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