Game-Based Financial Learning

POSTED: October 10, 2013 | BY: kwilliams | TAGS: ,

With lower cost devices and increased access to the Internet, technology is beginning to have a major affect on how educators craft their instruction. For many, technology has made it easier and more efficient to share lesson materials and present content. In addition, advances in as well as increased access to technology allows for a number of exciting opportunities to radically change the way we teach financial literacy. Two of these opportunities are using game-based learning experiences to increase student engagement in financial literacy and leveraging advanced data analysis tools to obtain increased insight into student understanding.

Games for Learning

Digital games focused on teaching financial literacy allow educators to reach their students outside of the school day and building. According to a 2008 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 97% of teenagers play digital games and half of them report playing daily or almost every day. More importantly, research has shown that digital games can have a strong, positive impact on student learning.

Last May, researchers at SRI International released Digital Games for Learning: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, a meta-analysis of research done on the effectiveness of game-based learning in the classroom. The report summarized 77 scholarly articles and found that when good instruction is paired with high-quality digital games, there was a 12% in cognitive learning outcomes among students who had played the game.

At the Council for Economic Education, we developed an online game called Gen i Revolution—funded in part through generous support from Discover—that gives students the chance to learn important personal finance skills as they solve missions, compete against classmates, and assist characters in the game. The game is aligned to and supplements our Learning Earning and Investing for a New Generation, which was also made possible by Discover, and Financial Fitness for Life curricula. Gen i Revolution has been played by over 120,000 students across the United States and abroad for a cumulative total of 31 years, with many of them demonstrating mastery in the subject matter by the end of a given mission.

Data Analytics

Collecting data on student performance is nothing new. Teachers have been diligently maintaining their grade books for as long as any of us can remember. Digital tools make it easier than ever for teachers to get useful, actionable data on their students’ performance.

Socrative is an app for the web and mobile devices that allows teachers to pose questions to their students and collect data in real time. The app allows teachers to instantly assess how well their students understand the concepts being taught and adjust their instruction accordingly in addition to the time-honored technique of reading the room.

Technology also allows for much richer data than was previously possible. When I was a teacher, it was often hard to tell if a student did poorly on an assignment because he or she struggled with the material or because they did it quickly in the hallway before coming to class. Traditionally, there was no direct way to measure the process of student learning and the end result was all you had to go by. In Gen i Revolution, we’re able to show teachers how many minutes a student spent on a mission in addition to their score and whether or not they exhibited mastery of the subject. We also report on their scores in various types of activity in each mission.

Adaptive learning is a field that is growing rapidly and will allow teachers to create assessments to increase or decrease in rigor based on a student’s performance.

Steve Kinney is the Director of Educational Technology at the Council for Economic Education (CEE). Before joining CEE, Steve was a technology coordinator and leader teacher with the New York City Department of Education where he taught programming and implemented the first, large-scale, one-to-one iPad initiative in the city.

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