My Take on some of the 30 surprising and controversial research findings about how students learn.

After reading Julie DeNeens’ blog on ‘The virtues of Daydreaming And 30 Other Surprising (And Controversial) Research Findings About How Students Learn’, as the title suggests, I was surprised by some of the findings that have been found into how students learn, and the improvements that could be made to make learning more valuable and more rewarding. This blog is going to focus on two of the findings that I found myself eager to research into more.

Playing scary and violent video games help children master their fears in real life: I’ve been brought up around an older sibling and friends playing video games constantly, focusing their interests on violent games involving guns, murder and prostitution, games that my mum frequently tried to ban from the house. Having said this, my brother grew up to be a respectable and intelligent individual, earning a first class honours degree in mechanical engineering. Would I say that video games helped him become this individual? Not at all. However, neither do I think they hindered him. Cheryl K. Olson conducted a study into the psychological benefits to video games, and her paper appeared in the ‘Review of General Psychology’, I support her view-point that video games do increase the desire to socialise within peer groups, and share a common interest however, I don’t think that the games need to be violent. There are many psychologists and theories that dispute Olson’s claims, theories that I lean more towards. Studies into people who play violent video games frequently showed that they became desensitised to real life violence (Phillips, 2005 http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn8449-violent-video-games-alter-brains-response-to-violence.html). Can video games help students within the educational system? I think almost certainly, based on whether they have educational benefits. Do I think violent video games hold an importance in education and they way children learn? Absolutely not.

Economically disadvantaged children reap long-term benefits from pre-school: I’ve been in the state school system from the first day I stepped into a reception classroom, many a times I was offered to go into private education and for some reason, solidly refused. Looking back at my friends, who ended up in both private and public schooling, and the results they achieved at GCSE and A levels, always makes me wonder if I made the wrong decision. However, I am at university studying something I enjoy, and am happy, so shouldn’t complain too much. My cousins have been in private education since pre-school, and after doing my work experience with them, I was amazed at how much they knew at such an early age, a bit like Jesse’s video of his grandchild playing a game on an iPad, all of these children had the ability to use technology to their advantage and several of them owned their own which they played on at home. Which got me thinking, these children are lucky enough to have parents that can afford to send them to such institutes and have access to the best learning, what about the children who cant? Why should these children miss out just because their parents don’t have the funds to send them? There are however, solutions and studies to back up different ways that children can benefit WITHOUT Ipads (shocking I know).  Randerson (2008) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/aug/28/earlyyearseducation.schools) wrote that children who receive a variety of learning at home before they even start school could achieve better results, especially in maths. Activities such as reading to them, number and shape games and singing nursery rhymes also improve children’s abilities vastly. The activities mentioned above can be carried out by all adults, economic status does not stop the ability to spend quality time with children partaking in simple activities that in the long run, will benefit the child.

Julie DeNeen’s blog contains 28 more research findings into children and the way they can benefit in education, as well as 1 more of her own based on daydreaming. As I stated before I found it a really interesting read and suggest reading it yourself if you are intrigued to find out about the other 29. I’ve focused on the two that I found myself debating with the most.

Julie’s blog can be found here: http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/30-surprising-research-findings-about-how-students-learn/

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