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Last Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Daily computer game boosts maths
St Columba's school children
The game was played every morning before lessons started
Playing a daily computer game has helped a class of primary school children improve their maths and concentration, a study says.

The children played the game every day for 10 weeks with "dramatic" results.

A class from the Dundee school took part in the project to show how computer games can enhance and build on classroom learning.

It is now hoped the resource can be used more widely across schools in the Scottish city.

The 30 children from St Columba's primary school - all aged nine and 10 played Dr Kawashima's More Brain Training game on a Nintendo DS console every morning before lessons for about 15 minutes.

The "game" is a collection of mini-games, such as number challenges, reading tests, problem-solving exercises and memory puzzles designed to exercise the brain by increasing blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex.

A targeted and managed use of such a game can help to enhance pupil numeracy skills and classroom behaviour
Derek Robertson, Learning and Teaching Scotland

Progress was compared to a school where 30 same-age pupils from a similar socio-economic background used a method called Brain Gym - a series of body exercises designed to increase brain activity and enhance learning - for three or four days a week over the 10-week assessment, and a control group which had no access to either Brain Gym or the DS game.

All three groups were given a maths test at the start of the project and the same one again at the end.

All groups had better scores after 10 weeks but the biggest improvement was in the Kawashima group, where the average score went up 10 points from 76/100 to 86/100.

Children who had low scores in the first test did particularly well and one pupil with special needs jumped from 25 to 68/100. No-one dropped below 65/100.

Improved behaviour

The other two groups did not show such across-the-board improvements and their second tests still had a number of children scoring in the 20s, 30s and 40s.

The average time taken to complete the test by the Kawashima group dropped from 17 minutes, 1 second to 13 minutes, 19 seconds.

Derek Robertson, from Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), who devised the project, was struck by the "dramatic enhancement" in the Kawashima group's maths ability in such a short period of time.

He said: "The results of this small-scale Dr Kawashima project have shown how a targeted and managed use of such a game can help to enhance pupil numeracy skills and classroom behaviour."

There was also a noticeable impact on behaviour and levels of concentration throughout the school day, with the children becoming more self-confident.

Mr Robertson, a former teacher and university lecturer, said: "It had a real calming effect on children in the class.

"In fact I have never before seen such gains across the board."

Mr Robertson recognises this was a small study, funded by LTS, and not large enough for firm conclusions to be drawn, but he hopes to carry out a similar study on a broader scale, early next year.

He wants to involve a number of local authorities in the scheme with a view to using the game as an educational resource.

A Dundee city council spokesman said: "We are exploring the possibility of extending the scheme."

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29 Mar 07 |  Education
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24 Apr 06 |  Technology
Mini-computers 'bring test boost'
10 Jan 07 |  Education

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