Digital game designed to motivate students is under development
Grant awarded to turn research-based program into a project that boosts a students academic success
A USC professors program to motivate children to achieve success in school and at work will soon be translated into a digital game to help more students succeed academically.
USC Deans Professor of Psychology Daphna Oyserman is an expert on the influence of childrens self-identity on their behavior and who they envision themselves becoming. A new five-year, $2.7 million Investing in Innovation grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education will allow Oyserman to work with the education nonprofit McREL International, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and educational game developer Filament Games to develop and test a digital game for the Identity-Based Motivation Journey to Academic Success project.
The South Central Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services, which serves students from minority and low-income homes, will also participate.
The researchers and game studio will develop the digital platform and track students who use the game and compare their outcomes to those of other students who use other educational platforms developed by Filament Games.
How to harness motivation
The project will involve an estimated 1,600 students across grades 7 to 11, representing 12 school districts with varying school sizes. Researchers will monitor changes in student grade-point averages.
In the long run, the project should create a larger cohort of students ready for the next step college and beyond.
We are excited about figuring out how to harness student motivation to improve success by taking the time to develop and innovate and then carefully test the conditions in which our innovation works, said Oyserman, who co-directs the USC Dornsife Mind and Society Center. Our short-term goal is to improve academic outcomes. In the long run, the project should create a larger cohort of students ready for the next step college and beyond.
Oysermans research documents that identity-based motivation, or IBM, is key to improving academic outcomes by guiding students to interpret their experienced difficulties with school as signifying that schoolwork is important. This helps a student feel closer to his or her future or possible self and makes their current choices feel more relevant. Effects of this approach are equally strong for students in well-off and low-income families, Oyserman said.
Described in her book, Pathways to Success, Oysermans IBM program has been tested in Detroit and Chicago. Singapore and school districts in southeast England also have adopted it. More schools likely will adopt the program after the digital platform is developed, said Oyserman, who holds a joint appointment at the USC Rossier School of Education and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
The grant was awarded through the Education Departments i3 competition to support development and expansion of research-based programs that can transform the academic trajectory of students, educators and their schools.