Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


New study shows computer games improve student learning

10 August 2011

New study by Waiariki Institute of Technology shows computer games improve student learning

The next time your 8-year-old takes control of the Xbox 360, consider the fact that he or she may be a budding computer designer creating the next World of Warcraft or Sims video game. Laugh not. Gamers are banking salaries ranging from $50 to 200K.

Pay cheques aside, fostering such creativity and focus might not be such a bad thing, according to results from a recent study by researchers at Waiariki Institute of Technology and Auckland University of Technology (AUT). Their recently published study found that student engagement was significantly enhanced through making and playing computer games.

“From the data collected ... it is apparent that in this situation the use of computer games was effective for engaging the students in learning,” says the report Enhancing Introductory Programming with Kodu Game Lab: An Exploratory Study.

In the study, Rotorua Intermediate School students aged 10 to 13 were introduced to and used Kodu, free game development software from Microsoft. They used it for a full term and the lessons were integrated into their normal class routine.

While playing computer games may be second nature to most adolescents – they are, after all, called ‘digital natives’ – the designing and building of games has generally been left to professional designers and their code-writing prowess. Well, ‘digital immigrants,’ step aside; Kodu requires no code-writing skills.

Kodu itself, aimed at the younger generation, resembles a video game. The point-and-click interface replaces the thousand-lines-of-text coding tools used by grown-ups. The language is easy to grasp and entirely icon-based. Users can create quite sophisticated programs, from 2D side-scrolling games to 3D adventure/storytelling games.

While the students undertook their coursework, their teachers monitored a range of student responses including engagement, sustained involvement in learning activities, collaboration and peer teaching, and a positive emotional tone. Each student was also asked to complete a questionnaire.

“The teachers involved in the research were impressed with the levels of student focus and engagement while using the software,” the report says.

The school’s principal Garry de Thierry said, “Rotorua Intermediate is dedicated to providing our students with leading teaching techniques and was excited to be part of this study. The staff and the students involved in this study found it valuable and learnt a lot from the lessons provided.”

This study was part of an international project which included New Zealand cities Rotorua and Nelson, New York, and Kent, England.

Details of the study can be found at


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland