The NYU team found that in just one year, the average Quest student in grades eight to ten showed as much growth on the exam as college students did on a similar performance-based test across four years. Quest students learned skills like problem solving at a much faster rate than students in college.
Additionally, Arum has said that the school is adept at building soft skills, such as design thinking, along with collaboration and critical thinking.
Likewise, a multiplayer role-playing game poses challenges that require players to work together, setting the stage for collaborative problem solving.
And kids who, say, design their own cities using simulation games may show stronger problem-solving abilities than peers learning about cities in more traditional ways.
As anyone who’s ever spent hours hunched over Candy Crush can attest, there’s something special about games.
Sure they’re fun, but they can also be absorbing, frustrating, challenging and complex.
Instead of learning from a combination of books, lectures and software, as students do at most schools, the primary mode of instruction for kids attending Quest to Learn is games.
Digital games were included from the start, of course, but the school also decided to include elements of game design in nearly everything kids did during the day.
Part of that success may be attributable to the way games are designed—e.g., minimizing failure and providing immediate feedback for students.
Though it might also have to do with the conditions for learning espoused by Salen (who has since stepped away from Quest, but still sits on the Institute’s board).