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IES Contract

Title: AlphaBear 2
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Edery, David Awardee: Spry Fox
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (5/1/2017-4/30/2019) Award Amount: $899,641
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: EDIES17C0036

Project Website:
Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: This project team will fully develop and test AlphaBear 2, a vocabulary learning game for grade 4 to 7 students. Vocabulary is a prerequisite for academic success, as it is linked to stronger performance across academic subjects and improved reading comprehension. It is more difficult for students to participate in educational activities without understanding the key vocabulary associated with that activity. While the importance of vocabulary is well documented, students often need opportunities outside of normal classroom instruction to develop the wider breath of vocabulary knowledge to improve academic achievement.

Project Activities: During Phase I, (completed in 2016), the team developed a prototype of AlphaBear 2 by adding content and functionality to facilitate gameplay. At the end of Phase I, researchers completed a pilot study with 95 students in four classrooms. Results demonstrated that the prototype operated as intended, that students were able to play and were highly engaged during gameplay, and that teachers believed the game could be used to supplement classroom vocabulary instruction. In Phase II, the team will refine gameplay mechanics, add content, develop a virtual dictionary, strengthen the backend management system, and build out the teacher reporting dashboard. After development is complete, the research team will conduct a pilot study to assess the feasibility and usability, fidelity of implementation, and the promise of the AlphaBear 2 for improving the vocabulary acquisition of grade 6 students, including English Learners. The study will include 300 students and 10 teachers. Half of the students will be randomly assigned to play AlphaBear 2 and half will use a paper-based vocabulary activity as a supplement to classroom instruction. Researchers will compare pre-and-post scores of student vocabulary learning.