News Article

Research to Focus on Handheld Games for Middle-School Literacy

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CCT has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a two-year research project to support the development of handheld games to help struggling middle-school readers. Researchers in EDC's Center for Children and Technology (CCT) will develop and test two games for middle-school students who read below grade level. Called "Portable Word Play: Discovering What Handheld Games Can do for Adolescent Reading Comprehension," the project will use game technologies familiar to kids to support existing school curricula and will also provide materials to help teachers who use the games in the classroom.

"Even students who read at grade level may be overwhelmed by assignments that require them to grasp new vocabulary words and complicated texts and content," said EDC's Shelley Pasnik, whose New York team will lead the new research. "Electronic games can immerse kids in new roles and new worlds that can help them grasp concepts in a different way. Our study will experiment with games that let students play with words in new ways--experiences that will help them improve their reading skills," she said.

Portable Word Play is a collaboration with the game development studio 1st Playable. It builds on work already underway on a suite of games designed for the Nintendo DSi system that also support classroom tools to enhance science and literacy learning.

In 2008, EDC's Center for Children and Technology was designated a National Research and Development Center on Instructional Technology by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. Since that designation, CCT staff have been researching the effectiveness of video games for learning, and sharing their development process with the broader gaming and education communities.