In an approach presented by a researcher, learning experience is made more enjoyable for kids by creating video games into which educational content and assessment tools are incorporated. The concept is known as 'stealth assessment'.
Valerie J. Shute believes from Florida State University that this would not only remain a pleasant diversion for kids, parents would be reassured that their child is acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to excel in an increasingly competitive world.
Essentially what we try to do is disguise educational content in such a way that kids aren't even aware that they're being assessed while they're engrossed in gameplay," said Shute.
How students react to new challenges and put evidence together can reveal a great deal about creative problem-solving skills.
"Based on a student's responses to various situations that come up during the course of playing a video game, the game itself can be programmed to assess where that student might be especially strong or weak in core competencies," Shute said.
"The game can then adapt its content so that the student is exposed to more or less information in that area. And it continues to assess the student's progress to determine how well he or she is learning the embedded concepts and skills.
"So in theory, not only can these stealth-assessment games measure a student's current level of knowledge in a given area, they can also determine areas where that student needs to improve and then help him or her to make those improvements, using feedback, maybe easier problems, and so on," Shute said.
There are other important features of such games: They can be used to assess a student's knowledge on a specific topic both at the beginning and at the end of the game, thus providing numerical data that illustrate how much the student has learned.
They can be easily customized to meet the educational strengths and weaknesses of individual students. In this manner, each student can learn at his or her own speed and be appropriately challenged.
"Essentially, the patent is for a computer algorithm that we developed," she said.
"The algorithm applies 'weights' to a student's responses to specific tasks within a game, then uses those weights to measure proficiency levels. With that information, the game knows whether to assign additional tasks to the student in a particular area or move on to another area."
"It's important that we change the way education thinks about what competencies are important to support in students (that we're not currently doing) to yield excellent global citizens. We also need to develop new kinds of assessments to capture and make sense of this new information.
"Stealth assessment within engaging learning and gaming environments might be one of the key tools we can use to improve the way we teach our children and the way they learn," she said.