Serious Assessments in Serious Games

Serious Assessments in Serious Games

Robert Hubal, Jamie Pina
DOI: 10.4018/jgcms.2012070104
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In the past decade the serious games initiative has produced a number of games being used today as adjuncts to institutional training. Many of the games produced through the serious games initiative do not incorporate adaptive assessment to assure the acquisition of real-world skills from virtual training. Detailed performance assessment techniques are often lacking. Successful performance assessment in virtual training requires that students are placed into multiple simulated contexts and are challenged with different tasks to perform under various conditions, to specified standards. The aggregate of training situations must adequately cover the space of real-world situations. This article discusses important concepts related to virtual training performance assessment including critical tasks, performance criteria, forward recommendation, errors of commission, red screen alerts, reusable competency definitions, ill-structured domains, violent domains, and other game design templating. By integrating these concepts into serious game design, trainers can develop sufficiently varying simulated tasks to ensure that serious games meet real-world adaptive needs.
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Performance Assessment

Clinical procedures require accurate execution and timing to safely administer care. The human error that occurs in clinical treatment settings is referred to as medical error (Zhang, Patel, & Johnson, 2002), and can be reduced through targeted training (Dror, 2011). Performance assessment within simulation training for medical procedures can assist students in identifying weaknesses in their skills and provide the opportunity for corrective training.

As one example, we developed a simulator for clinicians to practice interacting with patients who may have been exposed to a bioterrorist agent (Kizakevich, Lux, Duncan, Guinn, & McCartney, 2003)—a rare but critical event. Through a systematic process, clinicians interact with the patient to elicit information about the present illness, past medical history, and lifestyle and medical risks, order diagnostic tests, make diagnostic hypotheses, and plan prescriptions, follow-up, and referrals. Along the way a clinician might fail to ask important questions or order laboratory tests that could contribute to a differential diagnosis.

Performance assessment involves the evaluation of students’ learned skills (Lampton, Bliss, & Morris, 2002). For the purposes of this article, students’ knowledge, including facts, concepts, rules, and policies, are measured only as residual artifacts of their ability to accomplish skills. The approach is to do so in a situated environment, putting the students into a situation and monitoring their activity. It is a kind of learning-by-doing (Aldrich, 2005; Frank et al., 2004). For assessment to be actionable, at least these questions need to be answered: What does the student know how to do? What can the student do in what context? Into what situation does the student go next?

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