Guiding Understanding via Information from Digital Environments (GeniGUIDE)

Lead Staff:
Karen Mutch-Jones
Project Staff:
Santiago Gasca


SEEC’s process evaluation focuses on teacher plans, concerns, and instructional needs. These are continuously shared with the project team, from Concord Consortium, so that decisions for improving the digital game (Geniventure), teacher professional development and instructional materials are evidence-based. As the project matured, the evaluators have also embarked on a teacher implementation study. It focuses on how the structure of Geniventure, and associated teaching materials, enable teachers to instruct with an immersive game.

Research Activity

Geniventure is designed so that students will enter an iterative learning cycle, where they explore concepts, puzzle through challenges, and struggle through confusion in the process of developing an understanding of the big ideas in protein synthesis and genetics. Thus, Geniventure is characteristic of an immersive digital game, setting it apart from those that are brief, didactic, and focus on narrow skills (Takeuchi & Vaala, 2014; Gee, 2013; McClarity et al., 2012). Given this expectation, SEEC’s data collection focused on how the structure of Geniventure, and associated teaching materials, enabled teachers to instruct with the game, as opposed to pulling students out of it to provide a more traditional, teacher-centric learning experience. We also utilized an orchestration framework to investigate the instructional decisions that teachers made during implementation (Dillenbourg, 2013; Tchounikine, 2013).

Data for this implementation study were collected via pre-implementation surveys, classroom observations, and post-implementation teacher interviews. In addition, we collected both teacher and student artifacts (e.g., lessons, teacher-designed instructional materials, student work). Data collection concluded in May 2019, and we are in the early stages of analysis.

Initial Findings

Initial analyses suggest that the GeniGUIDE intervention (including the Geniventure game and dashboard, professional development, and instructional materials):

  • influenced teacher comfort with digital games and, over time, led to increased confidence;
  • supported teachers to expand and/or modify specific instructional strategies to enhance student game-play;
  • enabled teachers to make changes in their practice to leverage the affordances of a digital game (e.g., using Geniventure learning experiences as a reference point to support sense-making); and
  • informed teacher’s thinking about the structure and pacing of their biology curriculum.

We also identified external and game-based challenges that inhibited aspects of immersive game experience for some teachers. Further analyses are required to describe challenges accurately across school settings.