Using Games to Learn? WHAT KIND OF SORCERY IS THIS?! A Review of Kristen E. DiCerbo's "Game-Based Assessment of Persistence."
September 30, 2016
This post is part of a series I am completing relating to my graduate class in digital learning.
DiCerbo, Kristen E. (2014). Game-Based Assessment of Persistence. Educational Technology & Society, 17(1), 17-28.
When I was a kid, I loved playing this brand of computer games in the “Jumpstart” series. They were done by grade level, and my favorite was Jumpstart Adventures: 3rd Grade. The whole concept behind the game was there was a robot who needed your help saving the world, and you needed to use the stuff you’ve learned in school so far to help him battle evil forces on “Mystery Mountain.” IT. WAS. SO. FUN. I’m pretty sure I played this game way before 3rd grade and into 4th. It made learning fun and interesting; it was so different than the way I learned in school every day.
Click for nostalgia. *sigh*
Using digital content to learn has always been a bit frowned upon by traditional academia. I remember a professor telling me “Wikipedia is the devil!” when I was college, and being forced to use journal articles, encyclopedia entries, and book citations above all other pieces of research for papers throughout my entire academic experience. But, this vast “digital ocean” of information has provided an interesting challenge for educators: do we use this tool to enhance learning, or do we try to continue doing things the way that they’ve been done for decades? Which is better? Is there any evidence that says this can help?
Enter Kristen E. DiCerbo. She wrote a paper on game-based assessment and how we can use data from games that kids use to infer certain things about their attributes, skills, or knowledge. How cool is that?! It’s like a cooler, hipper form of a standardized test. She does an amazing job of laying out her research, discoveries, and thoughts in an easy-to-follow, interesting format. I also really enjoyed the photos that she added to her article for context.
DiCerbo’s strengths lie in her ability to research and present those findings in an easy-to-follow way. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read her thoughts on mining data from game-players to find a way for them to measure a game’s ability to assess a player’s knowledge. She got me excited to see where the future of gaming in education takes us.
Ultimately, the biggest thing I took away from this article is how much times have changed. When I was in school, educators would have never even considered video games as a valid way to assess if a student has learned something. Even though I was able to successfully navigate my little robot friend in “Jumpstart 3rd Grade” through Mystery Mountain, that would’ve never been seen as an accurate assessment of my ability to perform well in academia. They use standardized tests for that. I think we are on the precipice of a big change in education and how we manage a student’s learning; and I’m really excited to be a part of it.