In the August 7th, edition of Education Week there was an article entitled, "Researchers SEe Video Games as Testing Tools: Play used to gauge noncognitive skills. The main contents surrounds two main questions: Is it possible to use gaming for assessment and instruction concurrently? Would the platform of video gaming provide a peak into students social emotional growth?
I found both questions interesting. As a K-12 educator for years-and a mother of 5- I spent many spring nights and mornings soothing the fragile egos and fears of my little ones worried that they would not score as expected on state tests. I feed my children a good dinner the night before and breakfast the next day, made sure they had a good night's sleep and packed snacks and hid notes in hope to boost their perception of the day's outcome. In the classroom, I walked around the room patting backs,whispering, "You're doing great!", and playing soothing music during breaks. I am not sure any of my acts helped, but I felt better trying to blend the line between learning as assessment.
If gaming would help students settle into a cognitive state and allow educators to use the data to build more effective learning I would say GREAT!
However, I never worried about measuring student non-cognitive skills because I was with them everyday. I watched them make friends and fight. I watched them comfort and pick. I saw them band together to support each other and attack. Each social emotional issue usually came with tears (happy and sad). Then I was lucky enough to work in a school that had adopted Dr. Ernest Boyers' Basic School Virtues. We taught these virtues, spoke these virtues,and lived these virtues as a learning community. Parents use the vocabulary at home, teachers used it at school, and all support staff made sure they checked in with the students to enure there was complete fusion of our virtues and our learning community. You could feel the positive, supportive climate when you walked in the school. The energy was high, consistent, and supportive. We knew the student population had bought into and owned the importance of social emotional well being.
So now, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is looking to see how video games can help. Hmm. don't get me wrong, I think the cognitive gain from gaming is very important and understand why this platform builds literacy. What I am not sure of is the need to focus on the assessment aspect of the games from the non-cognitive side. I would rather see the games used to develop our cognitive side with the social emotional aspect blended in.