As a newly appointed National Research and Development Center on Instructional Technology, EDC’s Center for Children and Technology (CCT) is collaborating with colleagues at the Center for Science Education (CSE) on a five-year research and development project examining the use of a portable gaming environment to support middle-school science and literacy instruction.
Central to this investigation are a suite of digital games and learning tools focused on enhancing classroom science and literacy learning. This work is a response to a host of recent findings and policy voices that point to the need for academic interventions for adolescents — interventions that emphasize inquiry-based instruction, reading in and across the subject domains, the integration of higher-order thinking skills with content-area knowledge, and added motivation for struggling students.
While we anticipate that the game and supporting curricular materials that we produce will have broad appeal throughout middle-school science and language arts classes, we will deliberately hone in on the 7th-grade science classroom as we develop our game ideas and conduct formative and summative research on them.
The games and materials will be designed to address four common yet pressing obstacles:
- Middle school students bring considerable science knowledge into the classroom, but much of it is riddled with misconceptions that cloud how young people understand the world in which they live.
- Adolescents who struggle with literacy typically struggle with science content.
- Educational technology tools often bear little or no resemblance to the tools students’ use and the digital literacy skills they are developing outside of the classroom.
- Technology-based interventions that pay scant attention to instructional strategies and classroom management considerations gain no traction in real classrooms.