Learning Through Playing

The increasing cost of training and the difficulty of finding experienced trainers make it imperative to develop cost-effective, and easy to employ training methods.  One way of approaching this dilemma is to examine the fundamentals of an existing tool or game and reconstructing it so that it applies to the training goals and learning objectives. Below are some creative ways to use off-the-shelf games to conduct a variety of training.  Success in these activities relies not only on your abilities as a strategist, but also in deductive reasoning skills and in vocabulary knowledge.

1. Dominion 

Dominion is usually described as a board game. Classic board games tend to rely on a visual stimulus of a physical board. Dominion is about using your strategic thinking to outplay and outwit your opponents. It is played with cards. 

The goal of the game is to win by having the most amounts of Victory Points. This is possible by gaining enough funds to buy a Province, Duchy, or Estate.  There are many strategies to make this happen, such as attacking your opponents down to three cards in the round or by acquiring a vast amount of wealth.  Dominion boasts a base set with four expansions that have added complexity to the game over the years. It is primarily based on using the instructions on the “Action” cards to strategize how to play your hand.

While the complexities of Dominion are too in depth to go into here, we would highly recommend playing a few games here.

Let us know what you think about Dominion in the comments. How did you strategize? Do you feel like this could improve your adaptability or cognitive flexibility?

2. Free Rice

Free Rice is an excellent activity to sharpen  your skills and knowledge across many subjects while working towards a good cause. It continues through a nearly endless cycle of multiple choice questions through many topics.  Through the advertisers on their site, for every correct answer, FreeRice will donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme to help fight global hunger.

Not only can you learn and try to beat yourself with each new subject, but you can even test yourself to hone your language skills in French, German, Italian, and Spanish.  You can also improve your test-taking ability with practice SAT questions.

A few of the improvements you may see from playing FreeRice are

  • Writing more effective papers, emails, and business letters;
  • Speaking more precisely and persuasively;
  • Comprehending more of what you read;
  • Reading faster because your comprehension improves;
  • Getting higher grades in high school, college, and graduate school;
  • Increasing your scores on tests like the SAT, GRE, LSAT, and GMAT;

3. Spot It! 

Spot It! is a tool that has been used by neurologists to help maintain the quick flexibility of children who have endured concussions.

The central premise of the game is that every card has a matching picture with every other card in the deck. Only one picture matches per card.  Different variations can be played, either by stacking up cards onto another player once you have found the match, or another variation where getting all the cards is ideal. No matter what, winning is achieved by being the quickest one at the table to spot the matching pair.

We recommend having a look at Spot It! here Let us know if you have used any of these games before. Did they help you perform in another area of life? Are there any of these activities that do not come naturally to you?


About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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