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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 12:47 GMT
Computer games 'motivate pupils'
Child with computer
Many teachers believe games aid learning, the research suggests
A third of teachers are using computer games in the classroom and a majority believe they improve pupils' skills and knowledge, a survey suggests.

The survey of 1,000 teachers in England and Wales suggests a quarter also personally use them in their free time.

Over half of the 1000 teachers questioned by Nesta Futurelab said they would use them in future and believed they were a "good motivational tool".

But two thirds expressed concerns they could lead to anti-social behaviour.


Despite the popularity of computer games, some teachers also said they believed games re-inforced stereotypes in their presentation of women and people of other nationalities.

But a large majority of teachers believe there are educational benefits: 91% thought they developed motor and cognitive skills, and 60% believed they would develop thinking skills and acquire specific knowledge.

The next stage of the year-long project undertaken by Nesta Futurelab and game-maker Electronic Art - called Teaching with Games - will test the use of commercial computer games The Sims 2, RollerCoaster Tycoon3 and Knights of Honour, and help develop lesson plans to support the use of these and other games.

They will also consider the impact of using non-commercial games, such as those available from the BBC's online content.

Professor of Education at the University of Bristol, Angela MacFarlane who is involved in the research, said it was important to learn more about the "complex learning" which games could facilitate.

"Early research has shown some powerful outcomes in the classroom, but we need to understand how, when and when not to use games to support education."

Screenshot from The Sims 2
The Sims 2 gives users the chance to take control over virtual lives

And Claus Due from Electronic Arts Europe, which distributes The Sims 2 and Knights of Honour, said the research supported industry belief that games have the capacity to engage teachers and learners.

"In a short space of time, Teaching with Games has already highlighted the importance of collaboration between industry and the education sector to show how learning can be enhanced through gaming."


This week computer games companies are among around 600 suppliers of educational technology exhibiting at the annual technology show Bett.

Some teachers and educationalists believe that computer software and games offer the potential to "personalise" learning by allowing pupils to learn at their own pace and have more control over how they learn.

Marius Frank, Head Teacher at Bedminster Down School in Bristol, who is taking part in the Teaching with Games project, said: "I am excited and intrigued by the prospect of using gaming technology in the classroom.

"Individualised learning, at rates hitherto thought impossible, may be the norm if we get it right."

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