Feature

Millions of children and adults play video games each day--in fact, video game design is the fastest growing U.S. industry. And while many video games are pure entertainment, others, such as the popular America's Army, are teaching content to gamers of all ages, which makes incoming Journal of Educational Psychology (JEP) editor Art Graesser, PhD, wonder: Why isn't education more plugged into gaming?

"If these games are capturing the imagination of children and adults...it's something we need to be studying," says Graesser, who chairs the University of Memphis psychology department, is an adjunct professor in the computer science department and co-directs the university's Institute for Intelligent Systems.

So far, though, there are fewer than 20 published studies on the effects of games on learning, and more are needed before the education community can begin to understand how they can best be used as teaching or training tools in schools, the work force and for aging adults, Graesser says.

As JEP's editor, he says he'll welcome such studies and others on technology's contributions to learning, such as studies on intelligent tutoring systems, multimedia, pedagogical agents that communicate in natural language and design environments. He will also welcome interdisciplinary work from the learning sciences, cognitive sciences and developmental sciences.

"Many of those communities haven't yet turned to our journal as an outlet," says Graesser, who frequents these circles through his research on human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence and intelligent tutoring systems, and as a former associate and senior editor of the multidisciplinary journal Discourse Processes.

He also plans to devote space to short articles on replication research--even failed studies--that can move education forward. He'd also like to see more scale-up research--whereby a pedagogy that's been tested in two or three schools is then "scaled up" to see how it works in many cities and states.

And as classrooms become more Smartboard than chalkboard, accountability gains importance and the expanding aging population makes lifelong learning a priority, there's a challenge for JEP and educational psychology to keep learners engaged, says Graesser. "People often don't learn very much in a classroom," he says. "So, how do you build a learning environment where students are learning more, paying attention and self-regulating their learning?"