Science Assessment in a Playful Gaming Environment

Can assessment be more embedded? Can it be more exciting? Or more flexible? In November 2023, the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) unveiled a 3D digital assessment on the Roblox gaming platform that determines how well middle schoolers have learned, and can apply, Newton’s Second Law of Motion.

The game, called Distance Dash, requires two students to work together to launch vehicles of different sizes and payloads. Their goal is to get both vehicles to the finish line in perfect sync.

To start, each student chooses a skateboard, bicycle, grocery cart, or automobile. Then they load their vehicles with different items and collaboratively fine-tune the forces placed on them. The entire time, the game covertly measures several objectives, including whether students understand the principles of acceleration and are able to apply optimal force.

The assessment grew out of the Next Generation Science Standards, which require students to analyze and interpret data and understand patterns. Distance Dash is representative of the kind of team-based problem solving that scientists do when they are working through a physics problem in real life.

Plus: Another development in assessment took place in 2022, when the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) assessed creative thinking of 15-year-old students in more than 60 countries via the PISA Creative Thinking assessment. This measure boasts interactive items that allow students to produce a visual artifact with a digital design tool rather than construct a written response or choose a single correct answer. The PISA assessment’s open-ended tasks have multiple correct responses. The worldwide launch of the PISA 2022 Creative Thinking assessment will occur in 2024.

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