Using computer games for instruction: The student experience

Michael Grimley, Richard Green, Trond Nilsen, David Thompson, Russell Tomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Computer games are fun, exciting and motivational when used as leisure pursuits. But do they have similar attributes when utilized for educational purposes? This article investigates whether learning by computer game can improve student experiences compared with a more formal lecture approach and whether computer games have potential for improving performance. Instruction was split between lectures and computer games, and student experiences were recorded using an Experience Sampling Method to capture real-time experience and feelings of flow. Results indicated that student experiences in the game mode showed increased alertness, increased feelings of being active, increased feelings of involvement and an increased perception of challenge. Flow characteristics revealed boredom during standard lectures but anxiety and flow during game modes. Finally, some evidence of improved attainment was evident. By using contemporary interactive approaches such as computer games, student learning experiences and attainment may be improved. Some practical issues of implementing games are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalActive Learning in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • active learning
  • computer games
  • flow
  • instruction
  • learning
  • lecture
  • student experience


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