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Video Games Could Dramatically Streamline Education Research

By WS­ News

September 24, 2014

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Washington State University (WSU) researchers have developed the Student Task and Cognition Model, a computational modeling method for conducting research on science curricula in classrooms designed to be both easier and more cost-effective than previous systems. The method involves a computer "learning" student behavior and then "thinking" as students would.

WSU professor Rich Lamb says the process could revolutionize the way educational research is done.

As part of the process, computers examine student responses to science tasks and then mimic the way students think. "Now, instead of taking a shotgun approach, we can test the initial interventions on a computer and see which ones make the most sense to then study in the classroom," Lamb says.

As part of the Student Task and Cognition Model, students were given scientific tasks to complete in an electronic game. The researchers used statistical techniques to track everything and assess each task as a success or failure. "The computer is able to see what constitutes success, but it's also able to see how students approach science," Lamb says.

He notes the program can collect data on 100,000 students for the cost of running software on a computer.

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