About This ProjectEducational computer games can help students make big gains in school, particularly those who have learning difficulties. But it's unclear how long these benefits last after finishing the games. I will look at test scores for children up to two years after they play educational computer games to see if children maintain their gains.
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What is the context of this research?
Nowadays, computer-based learning games are marketed for a wide variety of ages--think of the recent rise in "brain training" games for adults. But these types of games were originally designed to be fun and interactive ways for children to practice their memory and language skills.
A wealth of research has shown that computer-based games can provide benefits for children academically, particularly those with learning difficulties. Computer-based games have been shown to help kids mature two years in language skills, be as effective in boosting reading skills as one-on-one therapy, and cause brain changes that strengthen attention and language.
What is the significance of this project?
One of the key questions that remains is how long benefits from computer-based games can last. It's important to know if the benefits from computer-based games are maintained over time, possibly enhanced, or, if like some vaccinations, children may need a "booster" of more game play later on.
In many cases, research into training games is conducted over the course of a short period and it's difficult to maintain participants in the study after the training is finished. I have access to a unique data set from a public school district that maintained records on their students after finishing the training program. I will be able to look at children's scores up to two years after finishing the training, as well as children who took a break and began training again.
What are the goals of the project?
I have unique access to state achievement test scores for students in elementary and middle school from 2006-2011. The students were using a suite of commercially available training games called Fast ForWord. Some students started in 2006, others as late as 2011, and some students stopped after one year, while others continued.
Using this data set, I will investigate:
- How much do students' state test scores improve when playing the training games?
- How much do students maintain gains in the year after playing the training games?
- What effect does a "booster" of more training game play have on the original gains? Does it differ from simply maintaining gains?
All of the funds will be used to cover the costs of presenting and publishing the results of this project.
I think one of the most important responsibilities of researchers is to communicate their findings clearly and to a broad and appropriate audience. Because many educational therapists and school administrators may not have subscriptions to academic journals, I will publish these results in an Open Access journal. I will also submit the results for presentation at an education or reading themed conference, such as the American Educational Research Association or the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.
Meet the Team
Team BioI earned my bachelors in Neuroscience at Colgate University and then pursued a Ph.D. at Northwestern University. I worked primarily with children with learning impairments (dyslexia and ADHD) and investigated how their brains' responses to speech might be different than those of their peers. My favorite project was working with students in their schools using classroom assistive listening devices, which help eliminate background noise for students. I found that kids improved in reading and had better brain responses to speech, but the biggest reward was hearing positive feedback from the children and their families.
After focusing on conversational and story-telling skills in families of children with autism in my post-doc, I founded my own company to further explore educational research questions, particularly on behalf of schools and learning clinics. My goal is to help provide scientific support for educational programs, particularly for children with learning impairments.
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