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IES Contract

Title: EdScape XR
Center: NCER Year: 2023
Principal Investigator: Errato, Christopher Awardee: MindTrust
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (07/17/2023 – 07/17/2025) Award Amount: $1,000,000
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: 91990023C0039

Purpose: Pre-algebra concepts are a particular barrier to student proficiency in middle and high school mathematics and engagement in advanced STEM courses. New methods are needed to engage students and provide opportunities for collaborative learning. This project will fully develop a virtual reality (VR) escape room for middle and high school topics in algebra, to engage groups of students in solving a series of challenges to "escape" a locked room through collaborative, multi-modal, and problem-based learning.

Project Activities: During Phase I in 2022, the project team developed a prototype of a virtual reality (VR) escape room for middle and high school to students in a STEM challenge. In a pilot study (at the end of Phase I with eleven educators and 143 students in grades 9 and 10 who participated in one session), researchers demonstrated that the prototype functioned as planned, that educators perceived the escape room could be integrated within classroom practice to reinforce learning hard-to-master content, and students were engaged while participating in the challenge.

In Phase II of the project, the team will fully develop the product, by adding a series of ten different escape rooms on different topics, improving functionality to the virtual reality experience through automated feedback and cues, by adding puzzles and rooms to convey the puzzles, and the reporting dashboard. Iterative refinements will be conducted with feedback from educators and students at major production milestones until the product is fully functional. After development concludes, researchers will carry out a pilot study to test the feasibility and usability, fidelity of implementation, and the promise of the product for improving science learning. The team will collect data from 8 middle school math classes with 120 students, with half randomly assigned to use the product and the other half to use business-as-usual activities for the same course content.  Researchers will compare scores on engagement, attitudes toward and interest in Math and STEM, and impacts on student achievement using the Istation math assessment, researcher-designed measures, and state assessments of math and pre-Algebra. Researchers will gather cost information using the "ingredients method" and will include all expenditures on things such as personnel, facilities, equipment, materials, and training.

Product: EdScape XRwill be a virtual reality 'escape room' platform for middle and high school STEM topics. The product will employ a problem-based learning approach that is used as a supplement to hard to learn topics in math and STEM. Intended educational outcomes include increased engagement, interest, and comfort with STEM subjects.  The platform will be built on WebXR technologies and to operate on low-end Chromebooks, tablets, computers, laptops, as well as the latest VR headsets.  An educator dashboard will provide information on group and individual level progress to inform instruction.

Related IES Projects: EdScape XR (91990022C0032)

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Company Website: