Game-based education has become a popular trend because it helps students develop skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. Now, research is being done to help teachers understand what a student knows and how they apply it when playing.
Kristen DiCerbo, principal research scientist at Pearson, was part of the team that developed SimCityEDU and Mars Generation One: Argubot Academy for the Institute of Play’s GlassLab. The work led the group to research student interactions while playing the games and ways to use the information.
“One of the things that games and simulation games do is provide those problems that are in context and ask learners to apply those to situations they might encounter,” DiCerbo told eSchool News. “We want them to be able to transfer the skills and use them in a different way.”
Tracking information such as students’ in-game actions could lead to models of student understanding that might then be fed back to the students through the game. DiCerbo and her team are also working on ways to measure skills developed through gaming.
“These underrepresented skills are a big place where we can potentially have an impact,” she said. “If we think about the idea behind, say, persistence and how much you continue in the face of trying to solve a difficult problem where you’re experiencing failure—do we assess that just by asking kids? In a game, we can see that and see how many times a student tries.”