Neuroeducational research in the design and use of games-based teaching

Wayne Holmes, Paul Howard-Jones, Erico Tanimoto, Carol Jones, Skevi Demetriou, Owen Morgan, Philip Perkins, Neil Davies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

2 Citations (Scopus)


Research has shown that a games-based approach to learning can have many positive effects in the classroom, although less attention has been paid to the potential of applying a games-based approach to teaching. Meanwhile, recent research into the brain's reward system has provided fresh understanding about the educational potential of games and associated underlying cognitive and neural processes. However, the harnessing of neuroscientific understanding for educational benefit presents many challenges, not least because it potentially impacts on pedagogical theory as well as technological design, with outcomes in the classroom likely to depend on a successful interaction of both. The effective design and implementation of games-based teaching might thus require a judicious interrelation of insights from diverse theoretical perspectives, such as neuroscientific, pedagogical and classroom praxis. Here we report on the design-based research of a web app, known as zondle Team Play (zTP), that allows teachers to use a games-based approach to teaching whole-classes and which draws on learning theory, the practicalities of classrooms, and concepts from neuroscience. zTP was developed iteratively with teachers, in five cycles of design, intervention, analysis and reflection. Rather than just exploring 'what works' in terms of the technology, iterative prototyping helped us explore aspects of classroom praxis and affordances of the technological design that were contingent upon each other. Reflection revealed many potential benefits of a neuroeducational approach to the design of a teaching game, including the development of related pedagogy, identification of immediate and future neuroeducational research questions and the development of language and terms suitable for communicating across interdisciplinary boundaries.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication7th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2013
EditorsPaula Escudeiro, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Event7th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2013 - Porto, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Oct 20134 Oct 2013


Conference7th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2013
CountryUnited Kingdom


  • Games
  • Motivation
  • Neuroscience
  • Pedagogy
  • Rewards
  • Teaching

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