Scholar’s Quest: Science City Heroes is a gamification-based experience that leverages some of the most powerful features of social games and applies them to science classrooms as part of an ongoing experience that gets students more engaged and invested in their learning. I am working with Science Education faculty Dr. Christopher Emdin and Dr. Jenny Ingber to improve the educational outcomes of low performing predominantly Latino-American and African-American students in NYC public schools. This project explores how gamification may be an effective approach in addressing significant challenges facing education: low student motivation and engagement to learn (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morison, 2006), the lack of positive academic identities, insufficient feedback and tailored individualized instruction, and strategies for managing behavior. I designed and studied the impact of Science City Heroes as a game layer experience applied over existing science curriculum in which students had the opportunity to earn three kinds of collectible and playable cards: (1) red “Science Victory” cards titled Creativity, Curiosity, Analytical Thinking, Persistence and Evidence, given when students exhibit these traits based on National Research Council (NRC) science standards; (2) green “Success” cards to promote positive academic behaviors and identities, and (3) blue “Action” cards that students can give each other to promote teamwork, collaboration, strategy and goal-setting behavior.
Students were organized into two teams and used cards to purchase and upgrade a virtual city, with city elements (buildings, vehicles, and parks) symbolic of real-world experiences and accomplishments. Students were recognized for various real-world achievements, employed various strategies to build their city, and received feedback about the progress they made as they earned and played the cards.