The research, led by psychological scientist Tom Stafford of the University of Sheffield (UK), suggests that the way you practice is just as important as how often you practice when it comes to learning quickly.
The new findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Stafford and Michael Dewar from The New York Times Research and Development Lab analyzed data from 854,064 people playing an online game called Axon. Players are tasked with guiding a neuron from connection to connection by clicking on potential targets, testing participants' ability to perceive, make decisions, and move quickly.
Stafford and Dewar were interested to know how practice affected players' subsequent performance in the game.
Some Axon players achieved higher scores than others despite practicing for the same amount of time. Game play data revealed that those players who seemed to learn more quickly had either spaced out their practice or had more variable early performance — suggesting they were exploring how the game works — before going on to perform better.
"The study suggests that learning can be improved — you can learn more efficiently or use the same practice time to learn to a higher level," says Stafford. "As we live longer, and as more of our lives become based around acquiring complex skills, optimal learning becomes increasingly relevant to everyone."
Using data collected from people playing games offers a new way for researchers to study learning, and has strong advantages compared to research on learning that is based in the lab. Game data provide insight into a real skill that people presumably enjoy practicing, and detailed data regarding all actions that players take as they learn to play are easily recorded.
"This kind of data affords us to look in an unprecedented way at the shape of the learning curve, allowing us to explore how the way we practice helps or hinders learning," says Stafford.
Stafford hopes to collaborate with game designers to further investigate the factors that shape optimal learning.
For more information about this study, please contact: Tom Stafford at email@example.com.
The article abstract is available online: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/12/30/0956797613511466.abstract
Axon was developed for the Wellcome Trust by game designer Preloaded. The game can be played http://axon.wellcomeapps.com/. Researchers inserted a tracking code that recorded machine identity each time the game was loaded and kept track of the score and the date and time of play. No information on the players, other than their game scores, was collected.
Stafford and Dewar have made their data and analysis code publicly available for anyone who wishes to replicate or conduct their own analyses.
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "Tracing the Trajectory of Skill Learning With a Very Large Sample of Online Game Players" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Anna Mikulak at 202-293-9300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anna Mikulak | EurekAlert!
Smart materials, smart researchers
19.03.2015 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF
Understanding how to teach “intelligence”
10.02.2015 | Universität Luxemburg - Université du Luxembourg
Spring is here and ectotherms, or animals dependent on external sources to raise their body temperature, are becoming more active. Recent studies have shown...
Glass-fronted office buildings are some of the biggest energy consumers, and regulating their temperature is a big job. Now a façade element developed by Fraunhofer researchers and designers for glass fronts is to reduce energy consumption by harnessing solar thermal energy. A demonstrator version will be on display at Hannover Messe.
In Germany, buildings account for almost 40 percent of all energy usage. Heating, cooling and ventilating homes, offices and public spaces is expensive – and...
Outstanding chemical, thermal and tribological properties predestine silicon carbide for the production of ceramic components of high volume. A novel method now overcomes the procedural and technical limitations of conventional design methods for the production of components with large differences in wall thickness and demanding undercuts.
Extremely hard as diamond, shrinking-free manufacturing, resistance to chemicals, wear and temperatures up to 1300 °C: Silicon carbide (SiSiC) bundles all...
In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...
The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.
As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
17.03.2015 | Event News
01.04.2015 | Earth Sciences
01.04.2015 | Information Technology
01.04.2015 | Physics and Astronomy