A-GAMES Project Examines Digital Games and Formative Assessment

With the rise in popularity of educational gaming the question is: does it have real impact on student learning? A joint program from University of Michigan School of Information and School of Education and New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, the A-GAMES project (Analyzing Games for Assessment in Math, ELA/ Social Studies, and Science) looked at one essential aspect: digital games and formative assessment. The survey’s authors found that “the way teachers use digital games for formative assessment is related to their overall formative assessment practices. Using digital games as part of instruction may enable teachers to conduct formative assessment more frequently and more effectively.”

Key Findings

  • Comfort with using games for teaching is strongly related to how often teachers use digital games in their teaching. Eighty percent of teachers who are very comfortable use digital games weekly or more often; 100% of teachers who are not comfortable use them monthly or less.
  • Grade 3-5 teachers use digital games weekly or more often (79%), compared to K-2 (66%), grade 6-8 (47%), and grade 9-12 (40%).
  • Forty-two percent of self-contained classroom teachers use digital games weekly or more often to carry out formative assessment; only 28% of subject-matter-only teachers do.
  • Math teachers (50%) use digital games weekly or more to cover content mandated by standards in contrast to ELA/history-only (15%), and science-only (4%).

Most important to learning resource developers, the most common barriers using digital games are the cost of games, limited time in the curriculum, and lack of technology resources. Nearly half reported they are unsure of where to find quality games and also that they have difficulties finding games to work within their school’s curriculum.

Read a summary or access the full report.

Assessment and Accountability