Exploring the Use of Video Games as an Educational Intervention, with a Focus on Training Cognitive Skills Involved in Reading for Children Aged 7 to 11 with Dyslexia
Over the last 20 years research has explored potential cognitive benefits of playing video games. One avenue has investigated whether action video game play can improve areas of cognitive deficit for certain groups. Franceschini et al (2013) hypothesised that playing these games would improve attentional deficits for individuals with dyslexia, subsequently improving reading skills. Studies exploring this hypothesis have observed improvements in reading. Yet as an emerging area of research that suffers from methodological weaknesses and a lack of exploration in English, further investigation is warranted.
The present research employed a mixed-methods approach. A constructive replication of Franceschini et al (2017) experiment was conducted to explore the effectiveness of a video game intervention among English-speaking children aged 7-11 with dyslexia (n= 14). Additionally, participant voice was deemed important, therefore semi-structured interviews supported by visual methods were utilised to explore how participants would design video games for the classroom.
Quantitative analysis revealed no significant improvement on cognitive or reading measures, contrasting with Franceschini’s findings. Several explanations for the differing findings are proposed, however, as different results were unexpected, this raises questions around the reliability and transferability of the previous findings. While the use of video games to improve reading was not supported here, this does not eliminate the potential of video games in the classroom. Thematic analysis of interviews exploring participants’ perspectives identified six themes. Participants highlighted affordances of video games in the classroom, including the potential to be used purely for entertainment and as an escape. Furthermore, the importance of autonomy in video game design was emphasised, as well as the importance of inclusion and ease of use. Participants also recognised the importance of considering the risks and restrictions of implementing video game technology in the classroom. These findings are discussed within a new version of the technology acceptance model.
Knowledge and Economy Skills Scholarship
- School of Education and Social Policy