Dr. Deborah Hecht (co-PI) at CASE directs the research activities for SMTE.
CASE was integrally involved in the proposal’s development, helping to ensure logical linkages between activities and expected outcomes. The research team uses varied methods for assessing Project and student outcomes, including assessments of student content knowledge, tracking of screen activity, expert reviews, teacher and student feedback, self-efficacy and attitudinal surveys, observations, interviews, and focus groups.
The research program and field testing were isomorphic and student assessment data was collected for two conditions:
1) teachers and students implement the Survival Master computer game (approximately 4 weeks) and then construct a physical model (approximately one week)
2) teachers and students implement the physical curriculum (approximately 4 weeks) and then engage in the game-based multiplayer design challenge (approximately one week).
The research investigated the adaptability of the Project hybrid model; exploring whether opportunities to explore design under low-risk condition of gaming leads to concentration, enjoyment, persistence, and goal focus (as predicted by PCT and flow theory); and assessing if these opportunities increase self-efficacy (self-confidence) and lead to enhanced achievement.
Research questions focused on operational design; on exploration of relevant theoretical questions connecting gaming to motivational theories related to self-efficacy; and on adaptability as follows:
1) Does the Project hybrid model lead to greater enhancement of content knowledge, design products, and self-efficacy/attitudes related to technology and group work than use of the business as usual or simulation only models?
2) Is there differential impact on learning across the conditions related to student background characteristics (e.g., gender, disability, prior academic achievement, and prior exposure to computer gaming/simulation)?
3) Does the gaming condition satisfy flow theory and perceptual control theory criteria concerning concentration and enjoyment?
4) If so, how are student task engagement, concentration, enjoyment, and perceived goal-driven outcomes (key characteristics of flow theory and perceptual control theory) related to student learning in the game-based learning tasks?
5) What are the linear and nonlinear relationships between student self-efficacy and engagement during the game-based learning experience?
6) Can teachers adapt the prototypical materials to other curriculum areas and contexts using the instructor design interface and maintain student engagement and learning?
The testing plan was involve 12 teachers with an average of 20 students each (n = 240 students). Attempts were to be made to randomly assign students to conditions. When random assignment was not possible, the groups were to be statistically equated. For each research condition, data was be collected in six assessment domains: student variables (gender, age, prior academic achievement, prior experiences with gaming); teacher/school context variables (hardware availability, teacher experience with and attitudes about serious gaming); content knowledge (pre-post assessments of KSB knowledge assessed through multiple choice questions, and those requiring explanations); embedded assessments (design products, projects, and design reports); affective assessments (pre-post self-efficacy and attitudinal ratings about the technological tasks, using the computer as a learning tool, doing KSBs online, and working in teams); process measures of engagement/attention (participation time and levels within the virtual and physical design tasks as measured by game data analysis and wikis to track individual student work, teacher and student ratings, degree of collaboration, and conflict resolution).
Data was analyzed using a variety of multivariate statistical analyses. The research intention was to identify not only how effective the conditions are in promoting student learning and affective changes but also for which students and under what conditions they produce the strongest outcomes. These results inform the new curriculum and contribute new knowledge related to the use of computer gaming as an educational tool.
Summary information on the SMTE Field Tests.
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