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IES Contract

Title: A More Perfect Union
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Trefry, Greg Awardee: Gigantic Mechanic
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (6/26/2019 – 6/25/2021) Award Amount: $897,103
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: 91990019C0041

Project Website:

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: The project team fully developed and tested VOXPOP (formerly A More Perfect Union), a tablet-based role-playing game for classes of middle and high school students covering standards-aligned topics in social studies. Interventions that utilize simulations, such as role-playing, provide opportunities for students to practice and learn about social studies and history, gain critical 21st century skills to be college and career ready, and prepare for active citizenship in a democracy.

Project Activities: During Phase I in 2018, the team developed a prototype of a tablet-based app that provides students information about a role to play in a historical event, and instructions for teachers to run the simulation.

In Phase II of the project, the team expanded the app to include more features such as virtual space for students to take notes, added a tool for students to cast votes with live tallies projected on a screen, created PDF curricular and guides for each role-play, and produced tutorial videos to show teachers how to use VOXPOP in their classroom. In response to COVID-19, the team also modified the VOXPOP software and facilitation guides to help teachers run role-plays in remote and hybrid classrooms.

After development was completed, researchers conducted a pilot study. The study occurred during the pandemic and the product was implemented to students through virtual classrooms.  Therefore,  the research  focused on student and educators self-reported perceptions of playing and learning from VOXPOP. The team collected data from ten classrooms (grade 9 – 11) that included five educators and 145 students. Results demonstrated that the majority of students reported enjoying the activities, that the experience helped them learn course objectives, that role playing of the historical event bears many similarities to issues of today, and that in order to solve community or political problems, students need to understand different  perspectives.

Product: In this project, the developers created VOXPOP (formerly A More Perfect Union), a tablet-based and class wide role-playing game for high school students. Using any web browser, teachers access a library of simulations on a range of topics drawn from the AP U.S. History Curriculum and Common Core History Standards. The website  provides resources to guide implementation, including videos, individualized student profiles, and real-time voting. Each student is assigned to participate in a defined role as an active and engaged citizen of a period and tasked with navigating the challenges facing the nation at that time. Throughout the experience, the software guides participants with facts and primary sources, with students engaging in face-to-face discussions, and debating issues central to the simulation. Played over multiple rounds and class periods, during the game students consult and collaborate with peers to iterate policy proposals based on new information and new arguments. All content can be found at

Related IES Project: A More Perfect Union (91990018C0026)