1. Matt Silberglitt
  2. http://simscientists.org/
  3. Senior Research Associate
  5. WestEd, Intelligent Automation Inc
  1. Edys Quellmalz
  2. https://www.wested.org/personnel/edys-quellmalz/
  3. Director Technology Enhanced Assessment and Learning Systems
  5. WestEd

SimScientists Games: Development of Simulation-Based Game Designs to Enhance ...

NSF Awards: 1503481

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

This video showcases ecosystem games under development to be used in classrooms as formative assessment resources during a middle school unit on ecosystems. The game designs are shaped by the frameworks of system modeling and evidence-centered assessment design. Ecosystems Game 1 is a 45-minute, in-class game designed to follow a  SimScienitsts curriculum-embedded assessment on building food web models of the flow of energy and matter in an ecosystem.  Game 1 reinforces and extends students’ use of NGSS ecosystem core ideas, practices, and cross-cutting concepts in  formative assessment gameplay that produces evidence of learning progress. Game 2 will provide formative assessment information on population dynamics.

The games also provide opportunities for assessment of collaboration through dialogs with a virtual scientist and peer. These games-as-assessment are inserted into ongoing ecosystem instruction after curriculum-embedded simulation-based assessments, both of which will generate individual and class-level Progress Reports on specified NGSS assessment targets.

Development of game 1 is in progress. Initial playtesting has shown the promise of the games for engaging students in fun and authentic problem solving as they collect clues and build a food web, while collaborating with a virtual peer and scientist to construct explanations, argue from evidence, and make predictions about possible problems for the focal organism in the game: fennec foxes. The game was also a finalist in the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), where it was tried out by 100s of students and by other game developers and researchers. Feedback from use of these early prototypes informed revisions to the game prototype. Classroom feasibility testing is planned for mid-April; successively larger pilot tests of the full suite of ecosystems assessments and games are planned in subsequent school years.

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