Play video games and improve ‘graduate attributes’

Playing video games may enhance the ‘graduate attributes’ – skills required for higher education, according to a recent study. Researchers discovered that playing video games may improve a student’s communication skills, resourcefulness and adaptability and may have a role to play in higher education.

Graduate attributes are those generic skills such as problem solving, communication, resourcefulness or adaptability which are considered desirable in graduates, particularly where employability is concerned.

During the study, for about two months, undergraduate students were assigned to either an intervention or a control group. Both groups are measured on three scales: Adaptability, resourcefulness and communication skills.

It was noted that the intervention group, which played specified video games under controlled conditions over an eight-week period, had shown significant improvements in communication, adaptability, and resourcefulness scales compared to the control group.

The result supported the hypothesis that self reported graduate skills can be improved by playing video games.

Matthew Barr, from the University of Glasgow in the UK said, “The findings suggest that such game-based learning interventions have a role to play in higher education.”

He said, “Modern video games often require players to be adaptable and resourceful, and finding multiple ways of accomplishing a task. The way games are designed often encourages critical thinking and reflective learning, commonly cited as desirable attributes in graduates.”

The research was intended to test the hypothesis that playing selected video games can improve student scores on measures of graduate skills.

“This work demonstrates that playing commercial video games can have a positive effect on communication ability, adaptability and resourcefulness in adult learners, suggesting that video games may have a role to play in higher education,” said Barr.

Barr further added, “The study also suggests that graduate skills may be improved in a relatively short amount of time, with the gains reported here achieved over a period of eight weeks and representing just 14 hours of game play.”

“Certainly, the results suggest that the popular discourse around games’ alleged ill effects should be tempered by considerations of the potential positive outcomes of playing video games,” he said.


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