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Lab Research and Activities

Think Tank Opportunities

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The Learning Games Lab offers Think Tank sessions to support research activities in the department. Game consultants involved in Think Tank sessions have an opportunity to test and evaluate games in development at NMSU or on the market.

Through such evaluations, research participants are exposed to possible careers, terminology, technology and design in the game development field, while building on writing, presentation and other communication skills.

Research Activities

Research faculty in NMSU's Learning Games Lab have worked on a number of research initiatives, including:

Math Snacks: Addressing Gaps in Conceptual Mathematics Understanding with Innovative Media

Researchers: Karin Wiburg, PhD, Barbara Chamberlin, PhD, Jeanne Gleason, EdD, Pamela Martinez - Developers at NMSU's Learning Games Lab are working with researchers to create innovative, engaging media that address established conceptual gaps in mathematical understanding in youth. Building on pilot animations and mini-games already developed, the team will create new tools for use on the Web and mobile devices. The iterative instructional design process integrates research, best practices in educational game development, and extensive user testing with students and teachers throughout the project.

Fitness Through Gameplay

Researchers: Barbara Chamberlin, PhD, Jeanne Gleason, EdD, Pamela Martinez - How can games get players physically active? What existing programs are effective for nutrition education and for increasing movement? What programs still could be developed for different audiences? This research and design initiative includes the evaluation of existing programs and the prototyping of new games and research strategies. Of particular interest to researchers is the development of games to prevent obesity in kids and to encourage activity by seniors ages 70 and over.

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Math Snacks materials were developed with support from the National Science Foundation (0918794) and under a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Education (U295A050004).

Identifying Assessment Strategies in Game Analysis by Youth

Researchers: Barbara Chamberlin, PhD and Jennifer Sheppard, PhD - As gamers review games and provide feedback to developers, how can we encourage detailed description of games and responses to questions and how can we document and analyze this input for efficient synthesis by researchers? Drs. Sheppard and Chamberlin are using multiple forms of assessment, including blogs, written documentation, interviews, video closet feedback and focus groups to refine strategies for gamers to provide input and feedback to game developers.

Using the iPod to Supplement Learning

Researchers: Barbara Chamberlin, PhD, Pamela Martinez, Rachel Gallagher - If we give middle school students iPods that are pre-loaded with educational content (and they are not able to customize the iPod with their own music and files), will students use the iPods in their spare time? What type and format of content are of greatest interest? How long will these iPods sustain their interest? What implications do these findings have for enhancing math learning in the spare time of middle school students? Researchers loan pre-loaded iPods to game lab participants, and review their use through interviews with students and parents and other methods.

Teachers' Perspectives on iPods in Supplemental Math Learning

Researchers: Barbara Chamberlin, PhD, Karin Wiburg, EdD, Ted Stanford, PhD, Rocio Benedicto, Harry Schulte - As part of a professional development summer institute, math teachers will join us as research participants evaluating iPods. Similar to the iPod research being done with youth, teachers will be loaned iPods pre-loaded with educational content. After using and evaluating the tools, teachers will work through a series of development activities to design new math-related content for iPods. These recommendations will be used to inform development of math tools for iPod delivery for middle school students.

Science Process Learning and Games: Science Pirates Formative Evaluation

Researchers: Barbara Chamberlin, PhD, Pamela Martinez, Matt Byrnes, CC Chamberlin, Elizabeth Sohn - NMSU game developers are currently working on a game for middle school science instruction emphasizing the practice and knowledge related to science processes. Game lab participants are informing that development by providing feedback on early paper prototypes, participating in evaluation and game play of beta versions of games, and engaging in class-based activities related to science instruction. In addition to identifying effective game mechanics, content level and engaging storyline for the science game, researchers are experimenting with new in-game assessment strategies that monitor science understanding as part of the game play.