The serious side of mind games

Mind games are games that exercise general reasoning abilities without involving specific curricular contents. They differ from brain training games in that their primary focus is getting the player to devise and enact problem-solving strategies. ITD-CNR has carried out several studies into the use of mind games in education for supporting and enhancing reasoning skills. As a deployment of digital games for serious purposes, this activity falls within the realm of serious gaming as defined by Djaouti, Alvarez and Jessel (2011).

The fundamental aim of the studies was to investigate whether and how mind games could be employed for assessing and supporting students’ problem-solving and reasoning abilities. The investigation of game-based assessment led to development of a norm-referenced test for assessing primary school pupils’ reasoning abilities. Called the LOGIVALI test (Bottino et al., 2010), this entailed the use of five digital mind games (see screenshots) that involve reasoning abilities without requiring specific curricular knowledge beyond very basic literacies.

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Long-term experiments were conducted to see how these games might support problem-solving and reasoning abilities. Analysis of the gathered data not only revealed a positive impact on students’ reasoning and problem-solving skills, but also a  demonstrable transfer to school performance (Bottino et al., 2006). More recent experimental studies (Bottino et al., in press) have also considered the type of reasoning abilities actually required for solving such games. These showed that a substantial consistency exists between school achievement and the ability to play and solve the type of games employed. All of these findings suggest that serious gaming practices based on mind games can be fruitfully adopted in formal educational settings for improving young learners’ reasoning abilities.

REFERENCES

  • Bottino R. M., Ott M., Tavella M. and Benigno V., 2010: Can Digital Mind Games be Used to Investigate Children’s Reasoning Abilities? In: Meyer B. (ed.) Proceedings of the 4th ECGBL Conference on Games Based Learning Copenhagen, pp. 31–39. Academic Conferences
  • Bottino, R.M., Ott, M. (2006): Mind games, reasoning skills, and the primary school curriculum: hints from a field experiment. Learning Media & Technology, 31 (4), 359—375
  • Bottino, R.M., Ott, M., Tavella. M.: Playing and reasoning: discussing their influence on school performance and learning behavior. (paper submitted to ECGBL 2013)
  • Djaouti D., Alvarez J., Jessel J.-P., 2011. Classifying Serious Games: The G/P/S Model. Patrick Felicia (ed), “Handbook of Research on Improving Learning and Motivation through Educational Games: Multidisciplinary Approaches”, IGI Global, 118-136 pp., DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-495-0.ch006.

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