Zoo U—the only research-proven online game that assesses and teaches social skills—was featured in New America’s recent education policy report Skills for Success: Supporting and Assessing Key Habits, Mindsets, and Skills in PreK-12. The report details the importance of “skills for success”—the non-technical skills, habits, and mindsets that are integral to professional, academic, and personal success—and includes policy recommendations to encourage schools to teach these skills.
The report emphasizes the necessity of assessment in successfully teaching these skills. Zoo U’s groundbreaking assessment component is featured on page 23 under the section “Future Directions for Assessing Student Skills for Success”:
The Zoo U assessment is currently being used in hundreds of classrooms across the United States and abroad, according to game developer Melissa DeRosier. She posits that computer games have the potential to make social skills assessment more affordable and less time intensive while providing more accurate and usable results for teachers and schools. Based on 3C Institute research, Zoo U assessment correlates well with teacher reports on the social skills of the same students.
3C Institute’s book Social Skills Assessment through Games: The New Best Practice was also used as the main citation to illustrate the effectiveness of games as assessments:
As with most assessments, when a student, or adult for that matter, recognizes he is being assessed, he may behave differently. Computer game-based evaluations, however, embed “invisible” assessment as part of the game. “By integrating assessment directly into the game environment, we eliminate observer effects and test anxiety; we can then evaluate intangibles such as creativity and problem solving,” note the authors of Social Skills Assessment Through Games: The New Best Practice. Students think they are merely playing a computer game when they are actually being measured for how they respond to social situations, for example. For the teacher, digital games have the potential to provide useful assessment data on a set of skills that is typically difficult to measure.
New America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that addresses a wide range of challenging issues and invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address these issues. Its hallmarks are “big ideas, impartial analysis, pragmatic policy solutions, technological innovation, next generation politics, and creative engagement with broad audiences.”