Computer games are good for boys

Jon Slater

Playing computer games improves boys' literacy but schools are failing to capitalise on this, according to research.

Academics say taking advantage of this informal learning in lessons could help bridge the gap between boys' and girls' performance. But they say teachers' ignorance of complex games such as Civilisation or even Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3, leads them to dismiss them as a waste of time.

Canadian researchers Heather Blair of Alberta university and Katy Sanford of Victoria university said game-playing expands vocabulary and teaches children to solve problems. "As they discuss their gaming, their oral language becomes engaging, explanatory and specific. Their vocabulary demonstrates new uses of words, for example 'download', 'cheats' and 'chatting'." The researchers studied 20 young adolescent boys at home and school over a three-year period.

Changing literacies: boys and games see www.education.

ualberta.caboysandliteracy

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Jon Slater

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