Serious games can affect positively students' knowledge and behavioural change, concludes eConfidence

Serious games, that is games with an educational purpose, have become a popular tool for knowledge transfer, perceptual or cognitive change, but are they an effective instrument for behavioural change? eConfidence aimed to answer this question through research pilot actions in schools that tested the use of two serious games as a tool for positively impacting young people's behavioural changes.

As the project has come to an end, it has concluded in the recently published booklet that there are indications that gaming activity in the classroom can make a positive change to students' knowledge of and behaviour towards a topic. The results of the eConfidence study stress the importance of players' game experience in obtaining beneficial outcomes from the game. Immersion in the game and perceived competence during game playing can bring about positive psychological outcomes. A key result emerging from the eConfidence project, which developed and tested two games, is that for them to be efficient in changing students' knowledge and behaviour they should be tailored according to students' existing knowledge and behaviour.

Students reported that they were able to learn concepts such as secure use of passwords and social media, what bullying is and how to prevent it, and what it means to be a victim, bully or a bystander in different situations. School staff participating in the research stated that they would recommend the eConfidence games to other teachers/pupils as educational resources effective in fostering positive behavioural change linked to bullying and the safe use of the internet.

The eConfidence project also defined a methodology for serious games development, which was based on recognised scientific methods and was tested successfully on the design and implementation of the two games: 'School of Empathy', to encourage positive behavioural change facing bullying situations, and ‘Go Online', to support positive behavioural change in the area of the safe use of the internet.

The effectiveness of the games was explored through the pilot study that was carried out during the academic year 2017 – 2018 with students aged 12-14, divided into a control and an experimental group. Five schools in Spain and five schools from English-speaking countries (Malta, Ireland and UK) took part in the pilot study.

eConfidence, funded from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, was the result of a multi-stakeholder cooperation between game developers, universities, technology industries and education experts. The project was co-ordinated by ITCL Institute of Technology, in collaboration with European Schoolnet, everis, Nurogames, University of Salamanca and the University of Rijeka Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Visit the eConfidence website to find resources developed during the project, including research results on the educational benefits of serious games or read the press release for more information.