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IES Contract

Title: Game Changers: Building and Deploying a Library of Strategically-Targeted Web Games for Use in the Classroom and at Home to Increase Student Achievement in Literacy
Center: NCER Year: 2023
Principal Investigator: Cerf, Christopher Awardee: Sirius Thinking, Ltd.
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: 91990023C0037

Purpose: Research supports the positive impact of some learning games on student academic achievement; however, many educators lack information on what games algin to standards for a particular course and on how to best integrate games into practice. In this project, the research team will fully develop an online digital library to host early literacy games and provide educators key information to best integrate games for in-class and remote instruction.

Project Activities: During Phase I in 2022, the project team developed a prototype of an online digital library to host early literacy games and a dashboard with information to integrate games into practice. At the end of Phase I, in a pilot study, researchers tested five prototype games in the digital library with four grade 1 educators and 79 students. Results demonstrated that the prototype functioned as planned, that educators perceived that the data presented by the prototype dashboard was accurate and useful, that children were engaged while using the prototype games, and that when children improved on a measure of understanding words containing targeted phonemes, the children performed better on a measure from 40–60% mastery of phonetically regular words to between 70 and 90% after the intervention.

In Phase II of the project, the project team will fully develop the product, including adding more games to the library, adding a book reader and dictionary, testing multiple techniques for sending appropriate home links lessons to the families, and creating manuals to train educators to use the playlists and games as part of classroom instruction. Iterative refinements will be conducted with feedback from educators and students at major production milestones until the product is fully functional. After development concludes, a pilot study will test the feasibility and usability, fidelity of implementation, and the promise of the product for improving early literacy. Researchers will collect data from 50 grade 1 classes, 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 pre-and-post scores using the FastTrack Phonics Assessment developed by the Success for All Foundation. 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: Researchers will develop a digital library with a set of concise, engaging web games, each targeting a specific early literacy curriculum goal. The library will include playlists and a dashboard for educations to organize content by topics and to inform integrating games into practice for use in classrooms and remotely. The games will be combined with entertaining videos from the Between the Lions television program, that provide instruction to supplement the activities within the digital games. A backend algorithm will keep track of children's progress and a dashboard will present results on each targeted game to inform further instruction. All components will be designed to work on any platform, including tablets, laptops, and smartphones. The main intended users will be kindergarten and 1st-grade educators and students (and their parents) in elementary schools, especially those that receive Title I funding.

Related IES Projects: Game Changers: Building and Deploying a Library of Strategically-Targeted Web Games, For Use in the Classroom and at Home, to Increase Student Achievement in Literacy (91990022C0033)

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Company Website: