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Findings from A-GAMES now available at


Project Findings Press Release

New Report Explores the Use of Digital Games in the Classroom During the Learning Process

A new report from the A-GAMES project, a collaboration between New York University and the University of Michigan, examines how teachers are using digital games in their classrooms to monitor student learning and provide ongoing feedback.

The overall study is designed to help game designers as they develop educational games, researchers as they frame future studies of games and learning, and educators as they think about the role of games in everyday classroom practice.

“At a time when the interest in the use of games for learning purposes is increasing, and when school districts are adopting games for use in the classroom, we need more insights into how teachers use digital games in the classroom, and how they use them to assess student learning, so we can provide designers with essential input to build the next generation of learning games,” said Jan Plass, co-director of the Games for Learning Institute and the Paulette Goddard Professor of Digital Media and Learning Sciences at NYU Steinhardt.

The study was conducted in two parts, the first of which was a nationwide survey of 488 K-12 teachers. The survey offers a “mile high” picture of what teachers are doing with digital games related to formative assessment, a set of practices to gauge student progress toward learning goals, and to adjust instruction to meet students where they are. Formative assessment, which occurs during the learning process, differs from summative assessment, used to measure student learning at the end of a unit or term.

In the web-based survey, teachers were asked about their digital game use, formative assessment practices, and the intersection of the two. Key findings from the survey include:

  • More than half of teachers (57 percent) use digital games weekly or more often in teaching, with 18 percent using games for teaching on a daily basis. A teacher’s comfort level with using games for teaching is strongly related to how often they use digital games in the classroom, i.e., the more comfortable teachers are, the more likely they are to use games frequently.
  • A higher percentage of elementary school teachers (66 percent for grade K-2 teachers and 79 percent for grade 3-5 teachers) use games weekly or more often for teaching, compared with middle school (47 percent) and high school (40 percent) teachers. This is consistent with the larger market presence of games for younger learners. 
  • More than a third of teachers (34 percent) use games at least weekly to conduct formative assessment. The way teachers who responded to the survey use digital games for formative assessment is related to their overall formative assessment practices, suggesting that using digital games may enable teachers to conduct formative assessment more frequently and effectively.
  • The most common barriers to using digital games – reported by more than half of the teachers – are the cost of games, limited time in the curriculum, and lack of technology resources, such as computers or the Internet. 

“The most exciting finding in this study is the relationship between game use and formative assessment practices,” said Barry Fishman, professor of learning technologies at the University of Michigan School of Information and School of Education. “Formative assessment is thought of as one of the most important classroom practices to support student learning, and our study indicates that teachers who use games for formative assessment conduct assessment more frequently and report fewer barriers.”

To view the full report, visit The second report from the study, which will be released in early 2015, includes observations and interviews with 30 middle school teachers in the New York City area and focuses on the specific types of game features teachers use to monitor student progress.

A-GAMES, which stands for Analyzing Games for Assessment in Math, ELA/Social Studies, and Science, is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (@nyusteinhardt)

Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School’s mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit

Contact: Rachel Harrison, NYU

Phone: 212.998.6797   Email:


Intial Project Press Release

New Research Partnership to Study the Potential of Video Games for Formative Assessment in the Classroom

University of Michigan and New York University to Collaborate on Research Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

 A new research project, called A-GAMES, or Analyzing Games for Assessment in Math, ELA/Social Studies, and Science, has been awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study how teachers use educational video games to assess student learning. The project is a partnership led by Barry Fishman at the University of Michigan School of Education and School of Information, along with Co-Investigators Jan Plass and Michelle Riconscente at the Games for Learning Institute at New York University.

Educational video games have attracted growing interest in the past decade, and are increasingly used in schools to engage students in core subject-area learning. For instance, a recent meta-analysis conducted by the GlassLab at SRI International found that well-designed educational games have a significant beneficial impact on student learning outcomes. In the A-GAMES study, we focus on the potential of video games to support formative assessment in classrooms, which is the range of practices teachers employ to monitor student learning in order to inform instruction and support future learning. The games in this study are designed specifically to support student learning of core content in math, English language arts, social studies, history, and science (example games are described on the project web site: The games have a range of different supports for formative assessment, such as dashboards that allow teachers to monitor their students’ learning progress, or tools for students to record questions and submit progress reports. Though video games have the potential to play a helpful role in classroom assessment, little is currently known about the ways in which teachers might make use of games for this purpose. We believe that educational video games have a key role to play as we work to bring innovative instructional approaches into America’s classrooms to address a range of challenges, including the preparation historically disadvantaged students for college.

The A-GAMES study aims to document the various ways teachers use educational games for assessment purposes, identify game features that support good assessment practices, and generate assessment-related recommendations for the design of educational games. The knowledge gained through this study will help inform future game design, and the design of curriculum and other support materials that help teachers make effective use of games in their classrooms. Findings will be shared with the public through the project web site, conference presentations, and publications.

Participating teachers in grades 5-8 will use resources generously provided by BrainPOP® – a creator of animated, curricular content – including GameUp®, their online educational games platform to support implementation of game-based learning in the classroom.

The project will be conducted in two phases: a survey to investigate the video game and assessment practices of a wide range of teachers, and then follow-up case studies with a group of volunteer teachers in the New York City area. The project will be conducted during the 2013-14 school year, with findings reported in the Fall of 2014.

More information about the project can be found at

Press Contact: Ted Montgomery <>


Testing Embedded in Digital Games Yields Key Data

Education Week

March 10, 2014