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The effect of instructional games on student motivation and achievement in high school service

1 June 1997


This project attempted to answer two basic questions. First, how does the playing of games increase students' motivation to learn and interest in the subject material, and do students enjoy games in the classroom? Second, is student achievement increased by the playing of instructional games? This study was conducted in a high school freshman science classroom using two classes of students and was set up much like that of the Klein and Freitag (199.1) study on college undergraduates. During two consecutive units, first one class then the other played a game while another used a teacher-made handout to study for a test. Students were monitored during each class for signs of interest and motivation. Test scores were later compared to measure achievement.

In previous studies have indicated that student achievement can be increased by playing instructional games (Devries and Edwards, 1973) and that competition can motivate students to learn more (Orbach, 1979). Results of this study seemed to support the assertion that students were more motivated. There was no statistical difference between the test scores of those students who did or did not play the game, however. Students reported on a survey that they very much preferred games to other modes of study. A significant portion of higher achieving students reported a desire to study by themselves rather than play a game. The most enthusiastic support came from the lower achieving students who had very favorable comments to make about the game. This supports Butler's (1968) findings that lower achieving students were helped more by games than other students.


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