Katrina Schwartz writes that:
“Proving the effectiveness of a game is no simple proposition. Games are all different. When students play a game that focuses on a particular skill, often called “drill-and-kill” games, they often see improved test scores. But those games don’t necessarily get at the higher order thinking skills that games have the potential to help develop. But more complex games often don’t offer clearly correlated outcomes that a teacher can use to prove effectiveness.
The debate has led some game developers and their funders to focus on how the game itself can be used to assess learning — how the game can become a test. But White says that also changes the nature of the game. When a child sits down to play a game, he assumes it’s “failure agnostic” and that allows him to experiment and meander his way through the game freely. When assessment is involved, it changes his relationship to the game. White isn’t against using games for assessment, but he doesn’t think anyone has really figured out how to accurately use the data that games provide to assess in a meaningful way.
Glasslab’s SimCityEDU, funded by the Gates and MacArthur Foundations, is the highest profile example of gaming for assessment. White says if they can crack the code he’ll license it from them, but it’s a lot easier to pull analytics and metrics for a single game than it is to generalize those principles into something that could be applied to all educational games. And, when assessment is involved, the price of developing a game skyrockets.” To read the full article on Mindshift, click here;
It is good to read a discussion of Higher Order Thinking Skills in games and gaming for assessment. These are two important issues that need more attention and development. Unfortunately these games have too often targeted the lower order thinking skills of Blooms’ taxonomy. In 2007, John Rice conducted a study which assessed higher order thinking skills in video games with the aim of developing a tool for parents and educators to rate the level of higher order thinking skills in video games. He found that the educational efficacy of these games varies greatly with respect to higher order thinking skill. (Rice, 2007, p. 88).
Rice began his study by examining; “lower level learning in so-called edutainment products and concludes with an example of an advanced social studies simulation that fosters higher order thinking. [Rice] identifies characteristics of highly cognitive virtual interactive environments and offers a detailed index and scoring rubric as a tool for teachers and preservice teachers to use when evaluating the tendencies a video game demonstrates toward encouraging higher order thinking in its participants (Rice, 2007, p. 87).”
When educators are looking for a game that does more than drill facts in to the brains of students, Rice’s rubric can serve as a helpful tool in selecting a game that lifts students to the top of Blooms’ taxonomy (1956).
Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York: Longmans Green.
Rice, J. W. (2007). Assessing Higher Order Thinking in Video Games. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 15(1), 87-100.