In their study, “Deep Assessment: An Exploratory Study of Game-Based, Multimodal Learning in Epidemic,” Jenson et al. (2016) examines what 178 Ontario students (aged 11-14) at two different schools learned from Epidemic, a health-based video game. The aims of the study were to: (1) See how students interacted with Epidemic, and; (2) Evaluate which type of assessment (standard or experimental) might be best for game-based learning.
To assess learning outcomes, Jenson and colleagues (2016) developed two instructional and assessment models. Students were divided into three groups. The standard group was provided with a lecture before being allowed to play Epidemic, the baseline group did not have any instruction and did not play Epidemic, and the experimental group skipped the lecture and moved straight to playing Epidemic. Each group was asked to produce a ‘public-health’-themed comic or poster which was then graded by the researchers. The results of the study revealed that the standard group performed better than the experimental group.
Ultimately, Jenson and colleagues (2016) argued for the development of more sophisticated assessment tools to measure digital game-based learning outcomes. Their findings reveal that there is a tension surrounding how best to gauge learning: For example, although the experimental group had lower scores than the standard group, their comics/posters were more critical than their peers’ in the standard group. These findings raise a discussion about how best to measure different competencies and even which types of learning are most important (e.g. critical thinking versus standard test scores), given the nature of today’s interdisciplinary economy. In this way, this article illustrates the short-comings of traditional assessment tools based on ‘print-cultural literacy’ in classrooms that incorporate game-based learning environments.
Jenson, de Castell, S., Thumlert K., & Muehrer, R. (2016). “Deep Assessment: An Exploratory Study of Game-Based, Multimodal Learning in Epidemic.” Digital Culture & Education, 8(2).