Interactive games use academic content in game-like situations to supplement traditional lectures. The use of interactive games is said to increase student's interest, motivation, and information retention as well as improve reasoning skills and higher order thinking. In addition to strengthening students academic skills, interactive games also benefit students by building and encouraging social skills. The use of interactive games provides shy students with opportunities to express themselves in a non-threatening and less intimidating environment as students are able to work together in small groups. Games can also promote competition in a healthy, fair manner and teach good sportsmanship. While there are critics who perceive games as "time fillers" in a classroom, when used correctly they are able to give students, and teachers, more benefits than lectures, worksheets and repetition.gifted-children-playing-empire-builder.jpg

Play is a very serious matter....It is an expression of our creativity; and creativity is at the very root of our ability to learn, to cope, and to become whatever we may be. (Rogers & Sharapan, 1994, p.1)

Depending on the subject matter, and the age of the students, teachers may try a variety of games in order to find those that best accommodate their class. Teachers will find that many games cross multiple classifications and can be adapted to various subjects. Games are classified into numerous, often overlapping, categories. A sampling includes: adventure games, simulation games, competition games, cooperation games, and puzzle games (Jacobs & Dempsey, 1993)

Adventure Games
An adventure game is a game that is focused on storytelling and problem-solving instead of physical challenges. A good example of an adventure game for a history lesson would be eLECTIONSby ciconline. In this game students assume the role of a presidential candidate and learn about how the election process works. In this game students see, read, hear and interact with multimedia content from CNN Student News, C-SPAN and Historyâ„¢.
Subject: History, Social Studies

Simulation Games
A simulation game attempts to recreate "real-life" scenarios typically for the purpose training or prediction. Simulation games are frequently used by the military to prepare Air Force pilots for potential aerial "dog fights" and by NASA to prepare astronauts for a shuttle launch. The simulation game Classroom Pilot is a very fun game to aid in the learning of geography. In this game students fly simulated paper airplanes across the world and must pass quizzes about the geographical area in which they land before moving on to the next country.
Subject: Geography, History

Competition Games
Competition games in the classroom is a controversial topic. The supporters of competition games claim that healthy competition is good for students and builds confidence and good sportsmanship but critics claim that competition is unhealthy for a child's psyche and can damage their self-confidence and willingness to attempt new experiences. Competition games are best when they are not individualized but rather teams games; consider for example The Invisible Man. In this competition game teams compete in a spelling bee and erase a portion of the opposing team's drawn stick figure every time they spell a word correctly until only one figure remains.
Subject: Spelling, English, Language Arts (can be adapted to any subject)

Cooperation Games
A cooperation game is a game where groups of players engage in cooperative behavior, hence the game is a competition between teams of players, rather than between individual players. Cooperation games may be between teams of players engaging in competition (see competition games) or a game in which players must cooperate together to achieve a common goal. Trolley Walk is a great cooperative game in which students must learn to communicate, listen, and coordinate with others to achieve a common goal.
Subject: Physical Education

Puzzle Games
Puzzle games are games that emphasize puzzle solving. The types of puzzles to be solved can test many problem solving skills including logic, strategy, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion. In the puzzle game Weather Storms students use word play and puzzle clues to solve weather science related puzzles. This would be an especially applicable puzzle game during Florida's hurricane season to help students retain knowledge pertaining to hurricane science.
Subject: All, as adapted

These students are enjoying an interactive game of Jeopardy!

Dr. Robert Marzano has been involved in over 60 studies researching the effects of interactive games in the classroom and their impact on student development. These studies by Dr. Marzano have indicated that, "on average, using academic games in the classroom is associated with a 20 percentile point gain in student achievement." In his studies, Dr. Marzano found that children relate best to games with which they have some familarity. Based on this information Dr. Marzano recommends adaptations of games such as Jeopardy, Family Feud and $100,000 Pyramid which allow teachers to build questions based on difficulty from least difficult (low money / point value) to most difficult (high money / point value).
Regardless of the type of game chosen for the classroom activity Dr. Marzano has identified four key components which should be present in order to achieve the best results.

Those four key components are:
  • Inconsequential competition - Using points as a form of measurement in a competition game helps to track the "winners" but Dr. Marzano urges teachers not to allow the points earned to influence a student's overall class grade. Points should be added up and the top 3-5 point earners should be awarded something fun, but inconsequential, like tokens to trade in for an extra 5-minutes of recess or a snack. The game, and the reward, should be viewed as a small break for class routine and the standard grading process.
  • Target the essential academic content - Dr. Marzano's research indicates that games should focus on the most important academic content. "The most efficient way to maintain an academic focus is to organize games around important terms and phrases. Questions and answers would involve information important to terms and phrases." (Marzano, 2010)
  • Debrief after the game- The point of interactive, academic games, is to build knowledge and understanding of a topic in a fun and exciting format. Dr. Marzano urges teachers not to add up points and move on to the next unit but rather to "debrief" students by reviewing the game, discussing which questions were easy and which were more difficult. The debriefing time allows students to reflect on the material and build a deeper understanding of the academic content.
  • Revise their notes- "When a game has ended and the class has discussed difficult terms and concepts related to the content, the teacher should give students time to revise their notes." (Marzano, 2010) The games help students develop a better understanding of the class material and Dr. Marzano suggets that teachers allow students to modify their notes to add tips to help them recall this newly developed comprehension. Marzano's research studies do indicate that games help students learn new content but the follow-up is critical to helping students remember the new content.

This page was created and authored by Ashley LaMar from Group 1; thanks for reading.

Jacobs, J. W., & Dempsey, J. V. (1993). Simulation and gaming: Fidelity, feedback, and motivation. In J. V. Dempsey & G. C. Sales (Eds.), Interactive instruction and feedback (pp. 197-227). Englewood Hills, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Rogers, F., & Sharapan, H. (1994). How children use play. Education Digest, 59(8), 13-16.

International TEFL and TESOL Training. (2010) Games in the Classroom.

Marzano, Robert J. Meeting Students Where They Are. Using Games to Enhance Student Achievement (66)5, 71-72
Robert J. Marzano, "Using Games to Enhance Student Achievement, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, February 2010
Pytel, B. (2010). Educational Games in the Classroom. Educational Issues