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Digital Games in the Classroom: A National Survey

by Catherine Jhee
June 9, 2014

It seems that hardly a week goes by without a news story touting that digital games like Minecraft are gaining a stronger foothold in American classrooms. Publishers and game developers are eager to make headway in the educational technology marketplace, and school districts throughout the country are rolling out one-to-one computing and BYOD classroom programs. But what do the teachers themselves have to say?

In 2013, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center conducted a survey of 694 U.S. K-8th grade classroom teachers to find out if, when, and how they use digital games in the classroom. The survey focused on the following:

  • Comfort level and frequency of digital game use in the classroom
  • Types of digital games played
  • Benefits associated with using digital games use in the classroom
  • Observations since integrating digital games
  • Sources of learning about digital games
  • Use of built-in-assessments
  • Barriers regarding use of digital games

We found that games are becoming a more regular part of a teacher’s curriculum. Of those teachers who use games in the classroom (513 respondents), a majority (55%) use games in the classroom at least once a week and another quarter have kids play games at least once a month. And while desktop computers remain the primary technology that teachers use to play games (72%), tablets are gaining ground.

Building on our first national survey of teachers who use games, conducted in 2011, this year’s survey surfaces recommendations for future educational game development and advocacy. The overall goal of this research, led by Lori Takeuchi, is to connect the documented experiences of teachers with other research about video games and learning.

Today, we are excited to share some highlights of our forthcoming report, which will be published this fall, about teachers’ experience using games in the classroom.

Of those teachers who use games in the classroom (74%), a majority (55%) use games in the classroom at least once a week and another quarter have kids play games at least once a month. And while desktop computers remain the primary technology that teachers use to play games (72%), followed by interactive whiteboards,  tablets are slowly but surely gaining ground.

They survey asked how teachers find the games that they use: interestingly, more than published reviews about specific games, respondents reported that they rely largely on word of mouth, between recommendations from fellow teachers (48%), their own experience with the game (41%) and feedback from students (31%).

Teachers seem to find that using games in the classroom is beneficial: in particular, low-performing students seem to be more motivated by the use of digital games, according to 55% of respondents.

These data points are just a few of the findings that are part of a comprehensive report by Lori Takeuchi and Sarah Vaala to be published this fall. For more information, please see gamesandlearning.org.

 

 

This survey was designed by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and was fielded during a three-week period in Fall 2013 by VeraQuest, who recruited respondents from the uSamp online survey panel. The panel has over 2 million members in the U.S. who have been recruited through a number of different panel enrollment campaigns, and panelists are required to double opt-in to ensure voluntary participation in the surveys they are invited to complete. Adult respondents were randomly selected from a targeted uSamp panel of k-8 classroom teachers to be generally proportional of the demographic strata of total U.S. teachers. Once selected, respondents were invited to a protected web-based survey which ensured that only the intended recipient could complete the survey, which could be completed only once. There were 694 respondents from the U.S. who reported being classroom/specialist k-8 teachers who completed the survey.


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