Game-based training has been applied to education for centuries. The earliest examples of game-based training can be traced back to scenario planning games in military strategy during the Middle Ages. Nowadays game-based training has become a successful training solution for soft skills learning. Although game-based training is less frequently applied to train technical content, recent cognitive research has shown that it significantly enhances the retention of the technical content as well as newly acquired knowledge.
Some clues as to why game-based training is so beneficial can be found in most recent cognitive science.
Game-based training and cognitive science
Current cognitive science identifies some key strategies on how to maximize knowledge acquisition and retention.
One key learning is that the most durable training requires effort.
Learning is strenuous and time consuming
But why is that? Why does learning have to be hard and time consuming? Every time you learn something new your brain must change anatomically by creating new neural connections. Your brain stores your learnings, memories and knowledge and each time something new is added it needs to change. This is hard, requires effort and unfortunately does not get easier the older we grow.
Strategies to assimilate knowledge more effectively
Cognitive science however presents us with two key strategies that can support making the learning journey much more effective.
Retrieving your newly acquired knowledge is key to retaining it.
Strategy 1: Retrieving new knowledge
There are three ways that knowledge retrieval can be practiced:
- Personal reflection.
Personal reflection on the retrieved knowledge or recalling the knowledge from memory.
- Test your knowledge.
Besides measuring your learning performance testing is one of the most successful ways to make you retrieve and retain knowledge.
- Repeated retrieval of your knowledge.
Repeated retrieval like repeated personal reflection or testing situations makes your memories more durable.
Strategy 2: Elaborate your new knowledge – build on your associative memory
By transferring newly acquired knowledge in one context enables you to apply that knowledge in a different context. This elaboration helps you truly understand the subject matter and is key to connecting the new teaching to knowledge you already have. There are three ways you can practice elaboration successfully:
There are three ways you can practice elaboration successfully:
- Elaboration in a team or study group
Discussions on the newly acquired knowledge with people in the same training allows you to understand the areas you are not sure about and creates a memory and emotions you can connect the knowledge to.
- Practically apply the knowledge to solve a problem
Just try to figure it out, if you make mistakes on the way do not worry as this only improves the effectiveness of learning and retention.
- Mix it up.
Mix up what you learn, the more you mix up different content and try to apply it to solve a problem the more successfully the knowledge is retained.
The success of the game-based training application is achieved through incorporating the outlined strategies into the training design. Most effective game-based training methods incorporate all strategies: