Topic: Education Technology
Purpose: The purpose of the National Center for Advanced Technology in Schools (NCATS) is to create materials that will lead to improved learning of critically important math concepts such as pre-algebra and algebra, commonly referred to as "gateway" concepts, because they are necessary for successfully performing higher-level math.
The team will leverage advances in instructional technology (e.g., "serious games") in order to challenge and motivate 9th grade students, particularly underperforming ones, to participate and succeed in math competence. The initial intervention to be developed will be a 2-dimentional (2D) game so researchers can better understand how variables such as reasoning, practice, and feedback affect outcomes. A commercial game design partner, Tabula Digita, will then create a 3-dimensional (3D) game based on the 2D efficacy findings. To succeed in the game, students will use math skills to maneuver through various levels, whose difficulty will vary online via an embedded self-assessment component.
Established through a five-year, $9.8 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education, the NCATS is staffed by nationally-recognized experts in cognitive psychology, education, instruction, assessment, and advanced technologies.
In addition to designing "serious games" for student use, the Center team will also examine the teachers' views of the games and their content strengths and gaps, and then provide the teachers with professional development and other supports to increase their knowledge and receptivity to games, which will be studied experimentally. The Center team will conduct in-depth investigation of students' interests, knowledge, and expectations through focus groups, cognitive task analyses, and other qualitative protocols and tests of their background knowledge. The Center team will also produce guidelines for researchers and practitioners at key points in the program of research, culminating in a set of comprehensive guidelines.
The efficacy study includes 45 classrooms from 15 schools, whereby classrooms will be randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) students will use the game in the classroom; (2) students will use the game in the classroom and practice homework using the game at home; and (3) students will receive the standard curriculum (control group). A variety of standardized measures will assess the impact of the intervention on students' math learning. Supplemental measures will assess students' self-concept and teachers' attitudes. Hierarchical linear models will be employed to examine the effect of the intervention on students' achievement.
Key Personnel: James Stigler, Gregory Chung, Dennis Cheek, Eva Baker, Richard Wainess, Noelle Griffin, Harry O'Neil, Tracy Fullerton, Merrilea Mayo, Robert Mislevy, Keith Holyoak, Robert Bjork, Ronald Dietel, Ntiedo Etuk, Alan Koenig, and Taehoon Kang.
Center Website: http://cats.cse.ucla.edu/.
IES Program Contact: Dr. Jonathan Levy
Telephone: (202) 219-2096