CAREER: Scientific Role-Playing Games for 21st-Century Citizenship

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

First, this project will assess to what extent differences in intuitive number-sense precision across individuals predicts school mathematics achievement. Second, it will develop a software package that will use a game-like format to determine the finest numerical ratio a subject can discriminate. Third, this software will be shared and tested in major research laboratories throughout the country, and the final version of the software will be shared freely with the educational and psychological research communities to support future research.


Sites will include laboratory settings, middle schools in southern Wisconsin, and digital classrooms based in Florida.

Research Design: 

This is a longitudinal, cross-sectional, and comparative study designed to generate descriptive, associative/correlational, and causal evidence. We will conduct thematic analyses of interviews, observations, and recorded footage of game play. We will do in-depth analysis of the case studies to reconstruct a narrative of the complex, interrelated variables such as classroom practices, student motivation, students’ preexisting knowledge, and students’ learning outcomes, including the unintended consequences of an instructional intervention. We will also use quantitative comparisons of students’ learning through two types of studies: (a) matched studies of students’ achievement in schools using game-based approaches in experimental vs. “normal” conditions and (b) experimental studies conducted with Florida Virtual School students randomly assigned to a game-based or control condition.


Findings will be posted as they become available.

Publications & Presentations: 

Because this project is being made with a private educational games company, the design documents are currently internal. A summary of our approach is currently in press: Gaydos M.J. & Squire, K (in press). Citizen Science: Designing a game for the 21st century. In Interdisciplinary Models and Tools for Serious Games: Emerging Concepts and Future Directions, Richard Van Eck, Editor. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Additionally, our first set of findings are forthcoming in the symposium: "Games Research 2.0: Assessing Learning in and Around Educational Games and Virtual Worlds" at the American Education Research Association annual meeting in April/May 2010.

Other Products: 

A video game to teach students scientific literacy.



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