Crystal Island – Uncharted Discovery

Principal Investigators: James Lester (PI, Computer Science), James Minogue (co-PI, Elementary Education), John Nietfeld (co-PI, Educational Psychology), Hiller Spires (co-PI, Curriculum & Instruction)

Primary Participants: Alok Baikadi (Computer Science), Kirby Culbertson (Art & Design), Lori Dolezal (Education), Julius Goth (Computer Science), EunYoung Ha (Computer Science), Sarah Hegler (Art & Design), Ashley Hoffman (Psychology), Seung Lee (Computer Science), Samuel Leeman-Munk (Computer Science), Eleni Lobene (Psychology), Erin Lyjak (Education), Karoon McDowell (Art & Design), Stacie McGowan (Art & Design), Angela Meluso (Psychology), Bradford Mott (Computer Science), Adam Osgood (Art & Design), Justin Phillips (Art & Design), Jonathan Rowe (Computer Science), Marc Russo (Art & Design), Robert Taylor (Computer Science), Jen Sabourin (Computer Science), Lucy Shores (Education), Andy Smith (Computer Science), Kim Turner (Education), Donnie Wrights (Art & Design), Meixun Zheng (Education)

Sponsor: National Science Foundation – Discovery Research K-12 Program (2008-2012)

Objectives: The Crystal Island project addresses the challenge of assuring that all students have the opportunity to learn significant science content by investigating the following research question: How can intelligent game-based environments promote problem solving and engagement in science learning for upper elementary students? The project investigates problem solving, engagement, and science learning by targeting the following two objectives:

1. Design a suite of intelligent game-based learning environment technologies for elementary science education. To promote effective science learning, we are creating intelligent game-based learning environment technologies that leverage the rich interactive 3D game environments provided by commercial game engines and the inferential capabilities of intelligent tutoring systems. Building on our experience in these two areas, we are creating an engaging intelligent game-based learning environment for 5th grade science.

2. Implement an empirically-based research program to provide a comprehensive account of elementary students’ problem-solving processes and engagement with STEM content as they interact with intelligent game-based learning environments. To understand the cognitive mechanisms by which learning occurs, we are taking a mixed method approach to investigating science learning with an intelligent game-based learning environment for 5th grade science. These studies are investigating the central issues of problem solving (strategy use, divergent thinking, and collaboration), and engagement (motivation, situational interest, presence) with respect to achievement as measured by both science content knowledge and transfer. With diverse student populations drawn from both urban and rural settings, the studies will determine precisely which technologies and conditions contribute most effectively to learning processes and outcomes.