It’s well known that if you take the time to study, you will probably do well in school. Anything that distracts you from studying, therefore, is likely to affect your grades – including your favorite video games.
Thus, the conclusion of a study on academic performance published by the National Bureau of Economic Research should come as no great surprise. What is interesting, however, is how they decided to go about measuring it.
Ars-Technica looked at the study, and while they found it informative, they worry about the mainstream media headlines that will inevitably follow:
Video games hurt GPAs!! Film at eleven…
The NBER study followed 210 students at Berea College, which was choosen because it eliminated many distracting and variable factors from student’s lives. Roommates were randomly assigned, nightly homework and attendance is strictly controlled, outside jobs are prohibited, and the college is located in a dry (alcohol-free) town.
Subjects were divided up into two categories. Those who had access to a video game system of some kind in their dorm room, and those who didn’t. Gamers were equally divided to differentiate between those who brought their own console, and those who’s roommates did.
For every 3.5 hours of study for those without access to games, those with access spent 2.84 hours studying, and 0.66 hours gaming. Researchers noted that this led to a drop of 0.24 points in GPA for those who brought their own gaming rigs, and 0.13 point drop for those who’s roommates had a console. While gender affected the proportion of students who brought their own console, it seemed to have no effect on the study habits of those with access to one.
No control group was used to see what happened when the students just spend 0.66 hours of study time per 3.5 doing anything else other than studying. The researchers took the results and concluded that for every hour spent studying, GPA increased 0.36 points.
CM: The study’s conclusion is pretty obvious. If you want to increase your GPAs, spend more time studying. Clearly if you’re gaming instead of studying, that will affect your marks.
The study makes no mention of what happens if you manage to get a lot of studying AND gaming done.
– Glad he’s got his B.Sc. and no longer needs to balance gaming vs. studying, GP Correspondent Colin “Jabrwock” McInnes