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Computer Gaming and Interactive Simulations for Learning: A Meta-Analysis

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Journal of Educational Computing Research Volume 34, Number 3, ISSN 0735-6331


Substantial disagreement exists in the literature regarding which educational technology results in the highest cognitive gain for learners. In an attempt to resolve this dispute, we conducted a meta-analysis to decipher which teaching method, games and interactive simulations or traditional, truly dominates and under what circumstances. It was found that across people and situations, games and interactive simulations are more dominant for cognitive gain outcomes. However, consideration of specific moderator variables yielded a more complex picture. For example, males showed no preference while females showed a preference for the game and interactive simulation programs. Also, when students navigated through the programs themselves, there was a significant preference for games and interactive simulations. However, when teachers controlled the programs, no significant advantage was found. Further, when the computer dictated the sequence of the program, results favored those in the traditional teaching method over the games and interactive simulations. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for exiting theoretical positions as well as future empirical research. (Contains 1 table.)


Vogel, J.J., Vogel, D.S., Cannon-Bowers, J., Bowers, C.A., Muse, K. & Wright, M. (2006). Computer Gaming and Interactive Simulations for Learning: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 34(3), 229-243. Retrieved March 4, 2021 from .

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