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image of a magnifying glass National Research and Development Centers





Principal Investigator:

Baker, Eva


University of California, Los Angeles


National Research and Development Centers [Program Details]

Award Period:

5 years

Award Amount:



Multiple Goals

National Research & Development Center on Instructional Technology: Center for Advanced Technology in Schools

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.


Professional Development
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.

Efficacy Study
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:

IES Program Contact: Dr. Erin Higgins
Telephone: (202) 208-3749

Publications from this project:

Baker, E.L. (2014). Learning and Assessment: Twenty-First Century Skills and Cognitive Readiness. In Teaching and Measuring Cognitive Readiness (pp. 53–70). Springer US.

Chung, G.K., and Delacruz, G.C. (2014). Cognitive Readiness for Solving Equations. In Teaching and Measuring Cognitive Readiness (pp. 135–148). Springer US.

Holyoak, K.J. (2012). Analogy and Relational Reasoning.The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning, 234–259.

Kerr, D., and Chung, G.K.. (2012). Identifying Key Features of Student Performance in Educational Video Games and Simulations Through Cluster Analysis.Journal of Educational Data Mining,4 (1), 144–182.

Kerr, D., and Chung, G K. (2013). Identifying Learning Trajectories in an Educational Video Game. In Intelligence Application Workshops: Part I: Big Data meet Complex Models (p. 20).

Lee, H.S., Thompson, B.J., Holyoak, K.J., and Stigler, J.W. (2010). Learning Inter-Related Concepts in Mathematics from Videogames. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences-Volume 2 (pp. 445–446). International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Mislevy, R., Behrens, J.T., Dicerbo, K.E., and Levy, R. (2012). Design and Discovery in Educational Assessment: Evidence-Centred Design, Psychometrics, and Educational Data Mining.Journal of Educational Data Mining,4 (1), 11–48.

Mislevy, R.J., Behrens, J.T., Dicerbo, K.E., Frezzo, D.C., and West, P. (2012). Three Things Game Designers Need to Know About Assessment. In Assessment in Game-Based Learning (pp. 59–81). Springer New York.

O'Neil, H.F., Chung, G.K., Kerr, D., Vendlinski, T.P., Buschang, R. E., and Mayer, R.E. (2014). Adding self-explanation prompts to an educational computer game.Computers in Human Behavior,30, 23–28.

Richland, L.E., Stigler, J.W., and Holyoak, K. J. (2012). Teaching the Conceptual Structure of Mathematics.Educational Psychologist,47 (3), 189–203.

Rupp, A.A., Levy, R., DiCerbo, K., Sweet, S., Crawford, A.V., Cališo, T., . . . and Behrens, J. (2012). Putting ECD into Practice: The Interplay of Theory and Data in Evidence Models Within a Digital Learning Environment.Journal of Educational Data Mining 4 (1): 49–110.

Stripling, R., and Chang, G. (2013). Brain Activity Based Assessment (BABA). In Foundations of Augmented Cognition (pp. 390–398). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.