Field Testing
Science Testing with KSB2 V7 (2013/2014)

The “KSB2 – Conductive Heat Flow Formula” levels of the game were redesigned and developed in Unity3D to be field tested as a feasibility study investigating whether one KSB from the SMTE game can be used in middle school science classrooms.

This feasibility study was to answer “Can a computer game (SMTE), designed for Technology Education classes be used in science classes and can it promote science learning that is considered meaningful within the context of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) disciplinary core ideas related to energy?”

The revision of the KSB2 game levels for this study was aligned with a cross-walk document prepared by Dr. Michael Jabot, Professor of Science Education at the State University of New York at Fredonia, that mapped the SMTE curriculum to NGSS. Wherever possible, the game-based learning activities were optimize to target connections to NGSS; Crosscutting concepts; and Science and Engineering Practices. The 5 levels of KSB2 were revised into 3 missions to be played in three class session of 40 minutes each.

Six middle school science teachers were recruited and worked under the aegis of Dr. Michael Jabot. The science teachers participated in several Webex meetings with the game developer and the Project management team to prepare them to test materials. Dr. Jabot visited with the teachers prior to and during their classroom testing to provide onsite support.

The objectives for this field testing included:

Explore whether components of the SMTE Survival Master game could be adpated for use by middle school science teachers to convey NGSS Science disciplinary core ideas about energy.

Examine how science teachers can implement gaming as an instructional stratgey to teach a subset of NGSS concepts.

Obtain fiedlity of implmentation data around the use of the intervention in classrooms.

Monitor and suppor science teachers who implemented the intervention.

Explore to what degree the Unity game engine provides an environment suitable for schoolbased implementation of a serious game.

Technology Education Testing #3 (2013/2014)

Additionally, another field test of the materials was conducted in six technology education classes with 82 students in gaming and physcial modeling conditions. Fiftythree students implemented the game condition and 30 students implemented the physcial modeling condition.

The objective of this field testing was to further examine how a technology teacher might implement the SMTE program both through gaming and through more traditional physical modeling and explore differences in student attainment between those two instructional modes.

Formal Technology Education Testing #2 (2012/2013)

A second field test was implemented with 10 teachers from seven states (providing additional data to those collected during the Year IV field test that involved 12 teachers). Teachers and their students were divided into two groups: Group I completed the physical modeling activities (KSBs and the physical modeling design challenge) and subsequently engaged in the virtual “team-based design activity.” Group II completed the virtual modeling activities (KSBs and the virtual “team-based design activity” and then engaged in the physical modeling shelter design activity.

Formal Technology Education Testing #1 (2011/2012)

The project conducted a nation-wide field test compared: a virtual, game-based approach where Knowledge and Skill Builders (KSBs) are rendered in 3D and students play them as a computer game; and a physical modeling approach, where students learn the same content as in the game, but through a traditional tools-and-materials laboratory-based approach. After completing the KSBs, students engage in the shelter design challenge (again, in two instructional modes: as a 3D game, and as a physical modeling experience.

After publicizing the opportunity to field test Project materials, 139 teachers requested applications to participate in the field test. Using a set of field test teacher selection criteria that were developed by the Project and reviewed by teacher advisors, 12 teachers were selected to participate that represented a diverse set of schools and geographic locations.

To prepare for the field test, a four-day professional development workshop was conducted during the period between August 9-12, 2011 to prepare the 12 SMTE Field Test teachers for field testing materials with their classes. The workshop was held in a technology education lab in one of the pilot-test schools (Southwoods Middle School, in Syosset, NY). The lab included 20 computers on which game files were installed, and a fully equipped facility with tools and machines that was used for physical modeling of the shelter.

The field test teachers were trained by Project leaders (PI Hacker, Co-PI Kapp, Game Producer Kiggens, Engineering Consultant Tom Robertson); the Project research team (Drs. Deborah Hecht and Laura Saxman); and the three expert middle school technology teacher-consultants (Nick Cimorelli, East Rockaway NY Schools, Kevin Oswald, Syosset NY Schools, and Jim Wandzilak, Freeport NY Schools) who had been working with the Project as advisors and pilot test teachers since Year I. The face-to-face training involved full-day and evening sessions during which teachers worked through both the gaming and physical modeling modes of instruction and were introduced to field test data collection protocols.

Informal Technology Education Testing (2011/2012)

Because more teachers than the Project could afford to support expressed the desire to field test materials, an invitation was extended to teachers who applied to participate, but who were not selected as part of the initial “formal” field test group of 12 teachers.

In addition to the formal field test teacher group, a group of seven additional teachers expressed willingness to “informally” field test the materials. Informal field test teachers did not receive any compensation, nor were supplies provided by the Project; but access to all curriculum materials was provided gratis and a series of six two-hour webinars was conducted by the Project leadership in order to prepare these teachers to test out Project materials. The webinars are archived so that any teachers new to the Project would have access to the step-by-step game install procedure and related professional development.

A modified data collection protocol was developed by the Project research team to solicit reactions from the informal field test group. Two of the informal field test teachers were from Australia and provided an immensely valuable international perspective to our work even though no Project funds were used to support them. Approval to include the Australian teachers as part of the informal field test was granted by then NSF Program Officer Michael Haney.

 Research Design

Complete details on the research quetions and methods.

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