October 9th, 2009

Fantasy Sports Helping in the Classroom

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Dan Flockhart has been using fantasy football to teach math since 1989 — back when most of us weren’t even yet playing the game — and turned his methods into an official line of textbooks that have been on the market since 2005. So, he already would have told you what an effective teaching tool fantasy sports can be.

Still, it never hurts to get a little official research behind you.

That’s why Flockhart collaborated with leading fantasy industry researcher Dr. Kim Beason to discover that our games really can raise students’ test scores.

“This is huge,” Beason reportedly said of the findings. “Across the board, both boys’ and girls’ test scores are up dramatically.”

Frankly, this study just helps to give real backing to a theory that makes immediate sense. Even the Berenstain Bears books I read to my daughter (and she then recites to herself) present the concept of teaching math to students via play, through active exercises that can be fun rather than words pulled straight from a 50-year-old text.

As Flockhart says, fantasy sports can take otherwise abstract concepts and from a subject such as algebra that challenges many a student and show their applications to real-life situations.

“If ‘T’ equals the number of touchdowns, then students know what they are dealing with,” Flockhart said. “Fantasy sports links math in the classroom to math in the real world.”

Hey, it worked for Tom Hanks’ character in Big.

Flockhart presents other findings from the teacher-survey portion of the study on his site, FantasySportsMath.com, such as these nuggets:

- 75 percent of teachers say students better understand math concepts when taught via the fantasy sports curriculum.

- 81 percent said students are more enthusiastic about math class.

We’ll look more at the results of this study as they become available.