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Research Case studies

Active video games


Dr Andrew Manley

Dr Andrew Manley is a Senior Lecturer in Sport & Exercise Psychology at undergraduate and postgraduate level; an active researcher within our University’s Institute for Sport, Physical Activity & Leisure and a reviewer for a number of scientific journals. His research interests include examining the impact of Active Video Games within three primary contexts: education, physical activity, and sports injury rehabilitation.

Playing active video games on consoles such as the Nintendo Wii and XBox 360 Kinect can enhance learning for students, according to our University academic, whose findings have been presented at the British Psychological Society (BPS) Conferences in 2011 and 2012.

Dr Manley investigated whether playing active video games (AVGs) could raise the enjoyment, motivation levels, and academic performance of undergraduate students.

His research, conducted over a two-year period, involved 221 students studying a Psychology of Sports Performance module at our University. During practical classes, students played traditional games such as quoits, hoopla and darts, as well as active video games on the Nintendo Wii and XBox 360 Kinect (e.g., Wii Sports Resort, Kinect Sports, PDC Championship Darts, Sonic and Mario at the Olympic Games) to reinforce some of the theory delivered in the lectures.

Following the practical sessions, students completed questionnaires relating to their enjoyment, satisfaction, engagement and academic motivation. Students’ academic achievement was also evaluated. The overall findings showed that practical sessions involving AVG activities led to increased levels of students’ engagement, academic motivation and academic performance compared with sessions which used traditional games.

Speaking about the studies, Dr Manley explained: “The increased sophistication of AVG technology provides teachers with new ways to engage students. As AVGs can increase motivation and interest, they represent an effective resource for enhancing students’ understanding of new and complex ideas.”

The lectures give the students the theoretical information through presentations, discussion, and directed readings. The practical sessions with AVGs aim to help students to understand those theories and ideas by allowing them to engage in active learning that is both interesting and fun.

In the practical sessions, students complete AVG tasks that reflect situations which might occur in a sporting context (e.g., performing under pressure). These are then discussed in relation to psychological factors such as anxiety and self-confidence that have been shown to impact on an athlete’s performance.

Dr Manley has progressed to examining the direct impact that AVGs can have on the rehabilitation of injured athletes. The findings of these studies will be presented at the BPS Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference at the Midland Hotel, Manchester in December.

video game demonstration

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