Relational Benefits of Playing and Games in Class. Are They Really Effective?
By Esther Juárez
“Student understanding and retention can be enhanced and improved by providing alternative learning activities and environments. Education theory recognizes the value of incorporating alternative activities (games, exercises and simulations) to stimulate student interest in the educational environment, enhance transfer of knowledge and improve learned retention with meaningful repetition” (Chow). The usage of games by students in a classroom is a way to improve their skills and ability to establish a great learning environment between the players involved. Time invested is such a valuable resource as a communication game is important to help students to be able to communicate effectively. Furthermore, the interaction with people provides to the student the opportunity to increase effective communication in the future. Students develop a skilled way to understand personalities, and to build up constructive communication abilities, which increases the opportunity for effective interaction by decreasing self-centered thinking. Learning, psychological, and relational benefits are found in the usage of this communication games.
“Enhancing the thinking process of problem solving using repetitive games should also improve a student’s ability to follow non-mathematical problem-solving processes, which should improve the overall ability to process information and make logical decisions” (Chow). Experimenting communication games brings the opportunity for an immediate learning because it is based on vivid experiences at that specific moment. “Games are an effective and cost-saving method in education and training” (Curtis). Activities that are meaningful to students during class hours provide more knowledge than those typical teaching methods using material covered in books. Students get to experience what is trying to be explained and is retained over the pass of the years.“Learning and retention are measured to evaluate the success of the students’ performance” (Chow).
On the other hand, psychological benefits are also developed with these exercises. Communication games help to tear up the barrier for psychological communication that is, in most cases, the principal barrier for self-expression. Playing communication games helps to build up self-esteem by retrieving personal information, since it opens up self-disclosure letting the communicators to feel comfortable with the surroundings by the interchange and decode of information that in some way cannot be said. Non-verbal communication is about using facial or bodily expressions that sometimes cannot be verbally expressed and that come naturally from our reactions to specific situations. Body language, eye contact or hand movements are useful to identify ideas that may be hidden inside the speaker. The body is the principal resource in communication, and psychology of body, in which body language is shown to play an important role in communication. “Empirical studies of embodied cognition show that how we feel emotionally changes our bodily experience, and shifts in the body change how we feel emotionally” (Blechner). Students experience psychological well-being while interacting during communication games.
Game activities also reinforce the students’ ability to be mentally prepared and secure while they are trying to communicate. Sharing information with other students make them become more close to each other. Reveling more information about oneself, let the relationship and intimacy to grow. Over time, communicators start feeling more comfortable with the people they are sharing the information with. Games are a good strategy to get close to people because it makes them to know each other not only by using verbal communication but non-verbal as well, such as body language. “The analysis illuminates the classroom as a site for identity negotiation, performance as a tool to deconstruct and reconstruct notions of ability, and family relationships as an integral part of a critical communication pedagogy” (Lindemann). Relationships are growing with the use of these amazing techniques of interaction. In other words, applying game strategies will help students to improve learning, the way information is perceived, focus on the main ideas, and to build up relationships.
In conclusion, games and activities in classroom promote a good environment, interaction, and important tools to develop relationships. According to Maria Matheidesz, “Preliminary conclusions include the following: games have great motivating force; communication games provide good opportunity for natural student interaction in unpredictable situations; this type of game can be used effectively with monolingual groups; error rates are similar to those in controlled practice exercises, but more errors are left uncorrected; teachers do not fully exploit the potential of language games in the classroom; and such games force teachers to change their role and give more time and space for students.” After all, communication games should be used to help students to build up a good teacher-student relationship as well. It has been demonstrated interaction games help to increase learning during class hours, tear up the psychological barrier present in speakers, and to establish long life relationships. Students need to feel free to use any of these communication games in order to find the meaning of everything they are trying to learn in the communicating process.
Blechner, Mark J. “Listening to the body and feeling the mind.” Contemporary Psychoanalysis 47.1 (2011): 25-34. PsycINFO. EBSCO. Web. 7 July 2011.
Chow, Alan F., Kelly C. Woodford, and Jeanne Maes. “Deal or No Deal: using games to improve student learning, retention and decision-making.” International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science & Technology 42.2 (2011): 259-264. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 6 July 2011.
Curtis, Conkey. “Relationships Between Game Attributes and Learning Outcomes
Review and Research Proposals.” Simulation & Gaming 40.2 (2009): 217-266. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 6 July 2011.
Lindemann, Kurt. “Performing (Dis)Ability in the Classroom: Pedagogy and (Con) Tensions.” Text & Performance Quarterly 31.3 (2011): 285-302. Communication & Mass Media Complete. EBSCO. Web. 7 July 2011.
Matheidesz, Maria. “Communication Games–Are They Really Effective?” Education Resources Information Center (1988): 19. ERIC. Web. 6 july 2011.