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Want kids to learn civics? Let them play video games, researchers say

Feb. 14, 2014 at 6:04 PM   |   Comments

WACO, Texas, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Playing online video games help students learn civics, a study at Baylor University in Texas has confirmed.

Researchers studied the effectiveness of iCivics, a free online website founded by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that teaches civics concepts using 19 educational games, the university reported.

The study shows iCivics is an effective tool for teaching civics concepts to primary and middle school students, they wrote in The Journal of Social Studies Research.

More than 250 students in two school districts in Waco, Texas, played iCivics games for six weeks, twice a week for 30 minutes.

The students were tested before and after the study period, and completed journal entries on their experience.

"Students' scores on a test of civic knowledge significantly improved after playing iCivics for the sample as a whole," Baylor curriculum and instruction Professor Karon LeCompte said.

While most of the students in the tested grade levels showed improvement in their civics education, younger students exhibited the biggest gains, the researchers said.

"Students in grades 5 and 8 showed improvement in test scores with eight-grade students scoring nearly five points higher on both," co-researcher Brooke Blevins said. "Students in fourth grade showed a marked improvement of nearly 10 points, the highest out of all of the grades."

Teachers about interviewed about their experiences with the study.

"Teachers indicated that their students loved the games and learned without even realizing they were learning complex civics concepts," Blevins said.

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