April 15-18, 2009
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Sessions: Abstract

Learning in the Wild: Evaluating WolfQuest’s impact on game players   go to paper

Kate Haley Goldman, Institute for Learning Innovation, USA
David Schaller, eduweb, USA
Grant Spickelmier, Minnesota Zoo, USA
Steven Allison-Bunnell, USA
Jes Koepfler, Institute for Learning Innovation, USA

The enormous popularity of computer and videogames (Lenhard et al. 2008), and the inherent pedagogical qualities of such games (Gee 2003, Squire et al. 2003) has inspired many efforts to create games that successfully fuse compelling gameplay with learning goals. This session examines the results of one such effort. WolfQuest is a 3D wildlife simulation game developed by Eduweb and the Minnesota Zoo, funded by the National Science Foundation, and distributed on-line as a free download for Mac and Windows computers. With over 250,000 game downloads and 30,000 multiplayer game sessions per month, the game has definitely found an audience. But are these players learning what we intended? Summative evaluation found that players do indeed report knowledge gain, stronger emotional attachment to wolves, and significant behavioral outcomes, with large percentages of players following their game sessions with other wolf-related activities, including such further explorations of wolves on the Internet, in books and on television. This paper details the evaluation results from the summative evaluation, discusses the theory behind the project, and reflects on our experience developing the game.

Session: Learning From Games [design]

Keywords: game-based learning, learning game, on-line community, conservation behaviors, evaluation, WolfQuest