How schools can turn gamers into writers

How schools can turn gamers into writers
Boys do not perform as well as girls on NAPLAN writing modules, according to 2016 data, and the answer could lie in a re-evaluation of the feedback loop on their writing and taking the lead from the success of online gaming.

Jack Goodman, founder of Studiosity, an organisation that facilitates literacy tutoring for students, said all students are gamers in the sense that there is something else they’d rather be doing online with their time.

Goodman recently presented at the National Boys’ Education Conference, at The King’s School in Parramatta, on the evidence around online, personal, timely, formative feedback.

“The feedback loop is absolutely critical for an individual student’s personal learning improvement and future academic success,” Goodman said.

“Gaming does this exceptionally well – some say too well – given the hours spent immersed in it, but feedback itself is not enough without it being just-in-time.”

Dr Gerard Calnin, Senior Fellow at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) within the University of Melbourne released a 2017 review that offered some important insights into establishing the conditions for students’ learning growth.

The review found that ‘just-in-time learning’ and the ability to solve problems at the time of need are fundamental – not just to student progression, but the confidence and resilience of the learner to solve learner challenges.

“Formative feedback is not a new idea for teachers – but what gaming does well is personal, just-in-time feedback that engages the player and builds confidence immediately, and incrementally,” Goodman said.

“You try something, and might be rewarded, you strategically think about a next move, you get feedback about whether that was a good or bad move. Feedback is the incentive to keep discovering, to achieve something, to level up.”

Even if gaming does it well, the challenge has been the translation to a classroom - or a year level cohort – of students.

“The top 5% of students might be great at help-seeking, so they get the personal attention. The bottom 5% might be at-risk so are given the attention as well,” Goodman said.

“How does the middle ground get as much personal, formative, timely feedback for every single writing assignment they have?”

Goodman said part of the strategy for improving national writing standards will inevitably come from a personalised student experience, for all students, equally and consistently, all year round.

“That’s why we see Studiosity support academic outcomes, in a way that’s efficient for teachers and schools as well,” he said.