Decades of research has proven that the human mind is able to learn faster and better when a concept is approached as something interesting. This knowledge has led to educational games as part of the typical method of instruction in elementary schools, but by high school, it’s more expected that students receive their content via lecture-style classrooms.
The decline of games throughout students’ educational progressions is actually detrimental to their learning, though, because there are significant benefits to using games and simulations for knowledge enhancement. In fact, innovative teaching strategies that use interactive approaches to education have a significant impact on behavioral and cognitive abilities in individual studies. As this knowledge becomes backed with evidence-based research, higher institutions are using games and simulations as an expected form of pedagogy in their classrooms and through virtual learning environments.
Cognitive, Psychomotor/Behavioral, and Affective Learning Styles
Anyone who has the responsibility of sharing knowledge to others would benefit from being aware of the different types of learning styles. Since each individual person has their own preferred method of learning, approaching a concept as a one-size-fits-all package isn’t going to have the best results.
Instead, instructors must understand the three main domains of learning and use them each as they put together their lessons. These domains include:
● Cognitive, in which the thinking domain is predominant. The taxonomies of learning that include this learning style are things like remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating in an activity focused on obtaining new knowledge.
● Affective, or the feeling style, which includes the openness to receive new stimuli, responding, or the motivation to learn, valuing and what the learner believes holds worth, organization of those values, and characterization, in which those same values are then carried out.
● Psychomotor and behavioral styles, where the aspects of the mind are pushed in areas like reflexes, fundamental movements, perceptual and physical abilities, and skilled movements.
Not every lesson lines itself with all of these learning styles, but integrating games and simulations where you can as an instructor ensures that you’re hitting all of them strategically.
Training Cognitive Abilities Isn’t Just for Kids
Games are already part of the educational system as a whole. However, there is no set structure for them to be implemented consistently and universally. Because games and simulations can impact so many learning outcomes, it’s important to understand that these strategies aren’t just for kids.
The fact, backed by research evidence, is that games and simulations, which are similar but not the same, are able to impact cognitive abilities in people of all ages. In in-person and digital education, it’s possible to integrate virtual technology to bring in this training at all levels of instruction.
The crucial aspect of utilizing these methods in the classroom is to approach the lesson planning bent on answering the question of how those practices can be incorporated in order to identify strengths and deficits in student learning, and then how they can be used to increase higher education student outcomes.
By including multiple varieties of games and simulations into the curriculum, it’s easier to enhance a lesson with these additions. By focusing on how those stimuli impacted the learning outcomes of the objectives, it’s possible to see which types of games and simulations made a difference on the cognition of the learners, which often has a secondary impact on the affective and psychomotor domains, as well.
The benefits of educational games and simulations are continually being studied, but there’s no better way to learn about them than firsthand. As an instructor bringing new technology and learning styles into the classroom, the work does not stop at the end of the lesson. Analyze your students’ outcomes from the activity that you prepared and then use that knowledge to drive your future lessons once you know your students’ preferred learning styles.