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Zoo U: A stealth approach to social skills assessment in schools

Project Info

Project Description

DeRosier, M. E., Craig, A. B., & Sanchez, R. P. (2012). Zoo U: A stealth approach to social skills assessment in schools. Advances in Human-Computer Interaction. doi:10.1155/2012/654791

This paper describes the design and evaluation of Zoo U, a novel computer game to assess children’s social skill development. Zoo U is an innovative product that combines theory-driven content and customized game mechanics. The game-like play creates the opportunity for stealth assessment, in which dynamic evidence of social skills is collected in real time and players’ choices during game play provide the needed data. To ensure the development of an engaging and valid game, we utilized an iterative data-driven validation process in which the game was created, tested, revised based on student performance and feedback, and retested until game play was statistically matched to independent ratings of social skills. We first investigated whether data collected through extensive logging of student actions provided information that could be used to improve the assessment. We found that detailed game logs of socially relevant player behavior combined with external measures of player social skills provided an efficient vector to incrementally improve the accuracy of the embedded assessments. Next, we investigated whether game performance correlated with teachers’ assessments of students’ social skills competencies. An evaluation of the final game showed (a) significant correlations between in-game social skills assessments and independently obtained standard psychological assessments of the same students, and (b) high levels of engagement and likeability for students. These findings support the use of the interactive and engaging computer game format for the stealth assessment of children’s social skills. The innovative design methodologies created should prove useful in the design and improvement of computer games in education. Read the full article.