3/17/2016 - Should Students Practice a Musical Instrument Or Play Educational Games?
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Do you think that educational games could improve your child's grades? You think that educational video games could teach your son or daughter "non-gaming" skills required to become successful in life?

There is certainly a movement taking place in the direction of implementing educational games in the classroom. For better or worse, it'll be showing up to a classroom close to you. I just don't want you to definitely get excited just yet.

In this article I will discuss research done by the DimensionU Gaming Suite, that's becoming a very popular educational gaming that schools have started to implement in their classrooms. I will then draw an evaluation to another "supplemental activity," that's learning a musical instrument so that you can give you a perspective concerning how to improve your child's education.

DimensionM will be the Math video game of a larger gaming suite called DimensionU that covers other subjects including Science and Reading. Below you will a read the introduction to the study that DimensionU posts on their website.

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Case Study: Pender County Study (UNC Wilmington)

Conducted in 2008, these studies looks at the effects of DimensionM within the setting of a rural junior high school of roughly 500 students, where only 63.1 percent of students were either at or more grade level on state-mandated End-of-Course testing for math.

 Mean scores increased from 46% around the pre-test to 63% on the post-test
 Male and feminine students demonstrated equitable gains

Not bad. The results are certainly encouraging, though after reading the in-depth report, (i downloaded off their website), I was not as excited as I was when looking at the summary above.

Never Judge A magazine By Its Cover

My personal opinion is that the summary is incredibly misleading. They make it could be seen as they did the study on 500 students. Look above again. Is certainly not how you interpret the 1st sentence of the study? In most cases, they did case study on 34 students since it states in the full report. Is it me, or is that a big difference? I don't know about you, but I don't like being misled.

The fact is that out of 500 students in this particular middle school, only 63.1% from the students were at or above grade level inside their end-of-year exams in Math. However, the gaming study was experimented on only 34 of the 500 students. In the full report, these 34 students counseled me below-average in Math.

Now, let's look at the first bullet reason for the study above. I can't like the use of the word "mean." The phrase sounds too scientific so they cover up the real concise explaination the point. Instead of "mean scores," I might prefer "average scores" in this context. Nobody is looking at any complex data here. It's this can be the average pre-test scores of the kids before they began the "remediation course" or "gaming course" which I prefer to use.

You'll want to point out that the students who participated in the study were below-average students with failing grades in Math. So certainly, there'd be plenty of room for improvement through an hour of "supplemental" activities weekly for 7 weeks because full report states. The results were that the average pre-test score went from 46% which is clearly a failing grade, to a 63% which is also a failing grade, though greatly improved.

The second bullet point holds true and backed up in the report. Both boys and girls improved equally an average of.

So What Else Is Wrong About it Study?

There are still some "unknowns" relating to this study and educational game titles in general. One is, (and the full report acknowledges), we still don't know exactly what the results would be in the games on standardized test scores. Another unanswered question is, Wouldso would the skills attained through educational gaming be useful in non-gaming situations? And thirdly, What are the cognitive processes accustomed to employ these games and how can they be or could possibly be applied to develop other academic and life skills?

We've one more big question about these games, since they claim to have an instructional ingredient of them. DimensionM has an instructional section where students can go to in order to learn the material necessary to move on to the next level in the adventure. They must master the fabric to advance forward amongst gamers.

I would like to know, if your game asks the exact same question in every level, so your student can guess and employ the process of elimination so that you can move to the next level. If that's the case, what are the students actually learning? They will just be memorizing answers if this describes the case. Unfortunately, I haven't got the answer because there is no more knowledge about this issue in the full report.

Is that this An Attack On Educational Games?

If you've read this far, you could infer that I'm attacking DimensionM along with other educational video games.

I am not attacking educational video gaming in general. I am personally for some supplemental activity to improve test scores. Clearly, scores can improve with the implementation of this game. A few things i am attacking, could be the misleading studies that put farmville and others in a better light than they ought to be.

I would like to know if the bingo would improve the already above-average students' grades in Math. I must know if this game can only improve a failing students grades to barely passable levels, or can it make a good student "great." I'm considering how our students can compete with rest of the world and not just looking to help the below-average ones.

What is the difference between two students that consider the same exact class sticking with the same teacher and one fails and the other gets an A? Could it be about the parents and also the home environment, something like that neurological or chemical? Can gaming solve most of these problems?

A New Interactive World

The total report also claims that many students are in the middle of 6 hours of interactive media everyday and are evolving into learning just with interactive media. I have a very hard time accepting this. Where's the child getting Six hours of media from? In the home? Well, the parents should limit that time, moderate it, and control it ferociously.

I don't know of any geniuses or great minds throughout history which have developed their intellect by playing educational video games. The intelligence of mankind have not "evolved" with the advent of gaming.

A historical Interactive Tool For Learning

I purchase frustrated sometimes when I see the excitement when a new technology emerges that produces life just a little bit easier. Though the benefits and risk of educational video games, my view is the fact that we already have an activity we can use not only just as one outside-of-the-classroom activity, but one that already has the scientific data and countless brilliant minds which have rendered use of it with their benefit.

I'm talking about learning a musical instrument, and learning how to play and read music. Issues ready my articles about Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo, Albert Einstein and Steven Spielberg, then you already know that music comes with a enormous impact on the development of an intelligent mind.

Below are three case studies as well as their summarized results seen in three nationally recognized research organizations.

 The Journal For Research In Music Education In 2007 Found That Elementary School Students In Top-Quality Music Programs Scored 22% Higher In English And 20% Higher In Mathematics Than Their Non-Musical Peers. June 2007; Dr. Christopher Johnson, Jenny Memmott

 The American Chemical Society Found That Nearly 100% Of Past Winners Within the Prestigious Siemens Westinghouse Competition (High School Students) In Science, Math, And Technology Played One Or More Musical Instruments. The Midland Chemist (American Chemical Society) Vol. 42, No.1, Feb. 2005

 In A National Report By The College Board Documented That Students Of Music Still Outperform Their Non-Arts Peers About the SAT. In 2006, Students Of Music Performance/Music Coursework Scored 57 Points Higher On The Verbal And 43 Points Higher On The Math Parts Of The SAT. The institution Board, Profile of College-Bound Seniors National Report for 2006

The Differences Between Learning Music & Educational Games

If you read the summaries above, you could think, "well, you just gave us the breakdown of the results just like DimensionM did so you didn't go into the full in-depth report." That's true. So in retrospect I listed my sources at the conclusion of each study that you can read yourself. I encourage that you read the studies and find out for yourself. However, I am not sure of too many people who does refute the cognitive great things about music education. Contrary, there are many people that don't know the benefits.

Below you will note two lists: one that summarizes just some of the scientific data found on the affects of studying music, and yet another that summarizes the data located in the DimensionM study above.

Students Coming from all Grades/Abilities Involved In Music Education

 22% Higher Test Scores in English
 20% Higher Test Scores in Math
 Nearly 100% of winners in Science Competitions
 Score 57 points higher on Verbal SAT
 Score 43 points higher on Math SAT

Below-Average Students Involved With DimensionM Educational Video Games

 No Data found for Test Scores in English
 17% Higher Test Scores in Math
 No Data found for winners in Science Competitions
 No Data found for affects on SAT scores

Are we Being Unfair?

I will admit that I was obviously a little unfair towards DimensionM study because I compared several studies of music against one study of an educational video game. But, there are more case studies made by this gaming suite offering similarly overly-hyped results. As well as the gaming suite studies were done on only below-average students while the music case studies were done on students of Not simply below-average students, but of all averages high and low.

I would also add that the music case studies were created by independent organizations that have no product that these were trying to sell. There was no special interest. Conversely, the gaming studies using DimensionM were produced by the same company attempting to market its own product. Certainly, the reality would be sugar-coated. There's no alternative way to see it.

Parents & Teachers: The One Thing You Should Take Away Because of this Article

Clearly, We have basically weakened the merits of DimensionU, one of the leading educational video games out there. If this game or any other is available to your child like a supplemental activity to help raise poor test scores, I'd do it. Yes, I said to do it. It can't hurt as long as it remains "supplemental."

I would highly recommend that you make an effort to get your child started in learning a musical instrument as soon as possible. The reason is because it takes time to develop the cognitive skills that come from learning music that may then translate to good grades and academic enthusiasm. The quicker the better.

Also, the advantages of learning music tend to be more scientifically conclusive than educational games. I really don't get too excited or fixated for the idea that video games can increase your child's test scores in Math. Games have a long way to go before they can compete with music.

Technology cannot solve the whole problems!

The long term important things about a music education are extremely long to list in this post. If you want to learn more, We have written many articles in regards to the effects of music education for the mind.

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