Survey: The Use of Instructional Games in K-12 Education!

Dear Commons Community,

A survey (N=694) of grade school educators on using games in the classroom was recently released by the Games and Learning Publishing Council (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Here are a summary of key findings as reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education:


  • 55% of the surveyed teachers who include games in their classroom use these digital games with their students weekly. This suggests rising numbers of students who will be accustomed to the idea of games as yet another familiar method of the classroom, as at that level of use it’s no longer about providing novelty. (Of course, there are plenty of other teachers who don’t use them at all.)
  • 45% of the surveyed teachers listed insufficient time as a barrier to bring games into the classroom while 44% cited cost. These are problems familiar to all of us in education, but it’s also interesting to see how other frequently cited barriers fall lower on the list, such as being unsure of how to integrate games into the classroom (only 23%) and a lack of administrative support (only 14%). In higher education, we face different challenges and opportunities, but there’s hope for wider adoption now that knowledge and availability barriers are diminishing.
  • 47% of the surveyed teachers identified low-performing students as the ones who have demonstrated the most benefit from learning through digital games. While a survey like this is far from an objective way to measure the impact on such students, it is promising that a potentially harder-to-reach group of students is at the top of the list of potential beneficiaries of gaming. (Only 1% of the teachers suggested that none of their students benefit, but of course this sample comes from those teachers who have already decided to make use of games and are thus likely to see them as valuable.)

It’s worth noting that most of the focus of the survey seemed to be on using pre-packaged games in the classroom, rather than making games or experimenting with other methods of play, and the survey is highly biased towards the digital–which is of course not inherently any more valuable for learning than physical games. However, there’s hope that this trend will continue, and bring with it more students who are used to thinking of games both as sites for play and learning. It’s particularly interesting to put this adoption of games as educational methodology alongside larger debates about the common core and other requirements at work that, at least in US public schools, are likely to in part determine the preparedness of future classes of freshmen.”

While the methodology (see below)  is a little sketchy, the survey provides some insights into the emerging world of gaming in K-12 education.




This survey was designed by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and was fielded during a three-week period in Fall 2013 by VeraQuest, who recruited respondents from the uSamp online survey panel. The panel has over 2 million members in the U.S. who have been recruited through a number of different panel enrollment campaigns, and panelists are required to double opt-in to ensure voluntary participation in the surveys they are invited to complete. Adult respondents were randomly selected from a targeted uSamp panel of k-8 classroom teachers to be generally proportional of the demographic strata of total U.S. teachers. Once selected, respondents were invited to a protected web-based survey which ensured that only the intended recipient could complete the survey, which could be completed only once. There were 694 respondents from the U.S. who reported being classroom/specialist k-8 teachers who completed the survey.


Comments are closed.