Moving to the Next Level: Designing Embedded Assessments into Educational Games

Moving to the Next Level: Designing Embedded Assessments into Educational Games

Jody S. Underwood (Pragmatic Solutions, Inc., USA), Stacy Kruse (Pragmatic Solutions, Inc., USA) and Peter Jakl (Pragmatic Solutions, Inc., USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-781-7.ch009
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Abstract

The educational research community has been experimenting with educational games with a focus on pedagogy and curriculum, but little effort has been made to assess what students are actually learning in these environments. Designing embedded assessments into games is one of the critical gateways to creating learning tools that are maximally engaging for the learner, using sound pedagogical methodology as a foundation. The authors review the research in this area and describe technology that facilitates near real-time data collection through embedded assessments, visual data mining, inference mechanisms, and dynamic individualization. They then describe a methodology for creating valid embedded assessments and identify types of data that can be collected from gaming environments along with approaches for analysis, all toward the goal of individualized adaptation.
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Background

What is Embedded Assessment

Embedded assessment is the process of measuring knowledge and ability as part of a learning activity rather than after the fact, when it is only an approximation of learner behavior. Student actions can be evaluated within context while carrying out tasks, or otherwise interacting in a gaming environment. (Note that we will use the terms “gaming environment” and “game” to refer to any online game that is intended for learning, including computer games, puzzles, drills, simulations, and 2D and 3D immersive spaces. By “online,” we mean any environment that communicates with the Internet, either in real-time or at some point.) These actions can be collected, viewed, and analyzed either immediately or after the session. Sometimes “so-called” embedded assessments are implemented as pop-up quizzes that a learner cannot bypass. We identify these as possible “tools” an educator might employ within a larger framework, but not as fully-realized embedded assessment.

Embedded assessments in games can focus on such things as content knowledge, process and procedures, and higher-order 21st century skills such as collaboration and strategic thinking (hereafter called “higher-order skills”; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009). Stakeholders may obtain reports detailing student proficiencies and challenges – who needs help in teamwork, who is accelerating in math skills, and how well individuals compare with the larger population taking the course. Parents, teachers, administrators and others may gain valuable information that can be elusive during the course of traditional instruction.

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