Academic and Social-Emotional Learning in High School Esports

Multiple high school esports leagues are expanding across North America, claiming learning benefits
for participation. The popularity of esports among high school students presents opportunities to foster connected learning environments. Little is empirically known, however, about actual outcomes of school-
affiliated esports clubs, and reservations about the social and cultural influence of esports abound. We examine the impact of a high school esports league on teens using national academic and social-emotional standards. Findings reveal important benefits in science, math, English language arts, social-emotional learning, and school affiliation. The most dramatic benefits were social-emotional. Odds-ratio analysis reveals the significant (p < 0.10) role of mentorship and student leadership in such outcomes, supporting the connected learning model. Group comparison of outcomes for students in low-income versus high-income schools reveals significant differences (p < 0.10) on 6 of 18 variables total, with students from low-income schools benefiting more from participation than students from high-income schools. This work provides early evidence of the positive academic and social-emotional outcomes esports may foster, for whom, and how.

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