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Institute of Education Sciences

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IES Contract

Title: Go Games Civics: Meeting Common Core Standards With Tablet-Enhanced Multiplayer Role Play Games
Center: NCER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Quinn, Beth Contractee: Filament Games
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 Years Award Amount: $900,000

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, teachers will be asked to address Common Core Standards in civics and in areas such as critical listening, thinking, and collaboration skills. Conventionally, teachers have used games that incorporate role play —such as mock trials, debates, and model legislatures— to address these topics. However, while sometimes effective, these activities are difficult for teachers to prepare, administer, and grade. Given that, many teachers simply cannot or will not use these powerful learning tools. To increase the likelihood that teachers will use these potential powerful learning tools, this project will develop a suite of tablet-based games for role playing activities. This technological platform will enable interactive and face-to-face student interaction while reducing administrative burdens, classroom management challenges, and assessment limitations of traditional role play methods.

Project Activities:  In 2012 during Phase I a prototype of one game was developed, in which students assumed the role of a legislator with a goal to pass amendments to a targeted bill. Preliminary research with 8 students and one teacher found that the prototype functioned as intended, and that students were engaged by the game. In Phase II, the team will author content and design role-play characters for two additional games, design and develop the teacher portal, and create formative assessments for each game. In developing these games, the researchers will use an iterative process where external experts, adults, teachers, and students will test and provide feedback to inform refinements. Once finalized, the researchers will test the usability and feasibility, the fidelity of implementation, and the promise of the games to increase student outcomes. Teachers and students from 30 classrooms will participate in the study.  Half of these classrooms will use GoGames for two of three topics, then do a post-test, and then use the traditional method (e.g., an actual role play scenario of a mock trial) for the third topic. A second group of classes will do the opposite. Analyses will compare pre and post scores on related civics items, and on critical listening, thinking, and collaboration skills.

Product: GoGames will be a tablet-based multiplayer role-play game for middle school social studies classrooms and will focus on topics in civics. GoGames is intended to enable more efficient and effective implementation of traditional civics interventions by replacing static paper content and training manuals with dynamic interactive content and key information for gameplay. Modules will include LawMaker, DiscussionMaker, and TrialMaker.  Each will be modeled after and will provide a new delivery mechanism for widely used civics interventions such as mock trial, model congress, and the structured academic controversy model, where small teams of students learn about a controversial issue from multiple perspectives.  GoGames will use an “augmented reality” genre, where the digital game will complement and enhance real world activities by guiding students' actions and providing players with new social identities, and by facilitating interactions, teamwork, collaboration, and discussion. A teacher app will support implementation and to provide formative assessment results to guide practice.