Social Problem-Solving Skills Gaming for Children

Project Number
OER 42/08 VH

Project Duration
April 2009 - September 2012


Social and emotional skills are critical life skills that all children should have as part of a holistic education. Examples of such skills include recognizing and managing emotions appropriately, learning to work with others cooperatively, learning to make responsible decisions, and learning to handle difficult situations in an appropriate manner. Research has demonstrated that a strong grounding in social and emotional skills yields positive academic outcomes, and adaptive coping and life-skills, even extending to long-term benefits such as success in working life, relationship management and self-management (e.g., Greenberg et al., 2003; Zins, Bloodworth, Weissberg, & Walberg, 2004) A range of methods are available to teachers and school counsellors to impart such skills, and these are typically delivered in either an individual or group format. While these methods have been demonstrated to be successful in many cases, they are usually delivered using traditional media such as books, worksheets, and physical games and activities. Such a delivery mode is highly labour-intensive and can be potentially cost ineffective especially if large numbers of children are involved. Recent research has suggested that computer games could be an alternative and effective platform for the management of physical and mental health. Leveraging on such findings, this new platform should therefore be explored to cater to the needs and expectations of today's children who are comfortable with using information technology. This project thus proposes to address the gap in social problem-solving skills training for the general population of children age between 9 and 12 (upper primary school) through a comprehensive training programme incorporating the use of computer games and face-to-face techniques developed from established psychological and educational research. The games will be developed based on a social problem-solving skills training programme developed in Singapore by a co-principal investigator of this project (Dr Rebecca Ang). This current programme consists of a series of lessons on social skills, problem-solving skills and anger management strategies delivered using traditional media. In this project, we will investigate how the existing components of the social problem-solving skills programme can be transferred to and augmented via the computer platform. To fulfil the objectives of this research, we will undertake the following tasks: (1) design an integrative social problem-solving skills programme that uses computer games as part of the lesson plans; (2) implement the games given these designs and evaluate their usability and acceptance; (3) evaluation of the programme in selected schools.

Research Themes
Learning Science & Pedagogy

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol 5: Social Problem-solving Skills through Gaming

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