I just read the neatest little article. Anyone reading bits of my blog knows I’m a critical thinking geek. I also happen to love adventure video games. They’re really great at developing critical thinking skills. I’m even thinking of ways to incorporate some of my favorites from BigFish Games into information literacy courses as a way to encourage critical thinking skills in fun ways. However, I never thought of the sneaky uses detailed in this article.
Article: Kaya, Travis. (2010). “A ‘Stealth Assessment’ Turns to Video Games to Measure Thinking Skills.” Chronicle of Higher Education, 57(12). A13. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Kaya gets Valerie Shute (here’s her webpage), an associate professor of educational psychology at Florida State University, to discuss stealth assessment. In order to test students’ thinking skills, among other things, without inducing test anxiety, Shute has utilized video games. Students already grow up playing games. They’re enjoyable and can reduce anxiety rather than causing it. It also helps that video games can be used in the classroom without the students realizing they’re being tested. It conveys more realistic results to professors.
Shute sees stealth assessment as a way of modernizing teaching for groups of all ages. Video games can draw students by increasing the desire of a student to participate. It increases the relevance of some course projects by modernizing the instruction and gaining the students interest.
A couple of games in the article interested me right away.
Shute designed a computer game (Smithtown) for undergraduates several years back. It helped them learn microeconomics. Think about that. A game for learning microeconomics. How cool is that? Students had to alter economic factors and look at the results. It ended up teaching important lessons about scientific inquiry. If the students altered too many variables, they wouldn’t be able to determine the cause and effect relationship of their experiments. Students learned to be patient, work with smaller numbers of variables, and dig out the actual cause/effect relationships.
The second game is another game promoted for in-class use by Shute. It was created by the University of Indiana’s Center for Research on Learning and Technology. Taiga Park deals with ecology. Students have to investigate the cause of a large scale fish die-off. They get to interview witnesses and business owners and learn about basic scientific principles involved in ecological research. It just sounds neat!
I think I may have to give Shute a hug if I ever meet her. This is awesome stuff. I love the twenty-first century. I swear when I finally get hold of a librarian position, I’m going to be pushing video games for the info lit courses. I cannot think a better way to engage college age students and still get them learning.