Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Jennifer Adams

    Jennifer Adams

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 12:50 p.m.

    I love the dragon-breeding theme of the game! I also like that it can engage a broad age/grade range of students, from MS to college undergrads. I would like to hear more about the kinds of feedback the programs offers both to teachers about their students and to students while they are engaged in the game.

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 03:07 p.m.

    Hi Jennifer, thanks for checking us out! In the game, students receive from 1 – 3 stars when they breed dragons, based on how efficiently they can create a dragon with specified traits. In order to breed efficiently, they must understand the pattern of inheritance of the traits. As we know from Angry Birds, getting 3 stars is a great motivator and we see that in Geniverse too, with students repeating challenges until they can do them perfectly and receive three stars.

    Geniverse also offers challenges that are addressed using in-game scientific argumentation, such that students generate a claim, evidence from the simulated experiments with breeding, and connect them with reasoning. These are then submitted to the teacher, who can give feedback outside of the game.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Adams

    Jennifer Adams

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 12:42 p.m.

    Awesome! It is great that students can keep revisiting a challenge until they achieve the 3 star rating.

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Associate Professor of Science Education
    May 16, 2016 | 02:07 p.m.

    Such wonderful work! And so fabulous that it is being used in all the different settings.

  • Small default profile

    Trudi Lord

    Guest
    May 16, 2016 | 02:57 p.m.

    Thanks, Kate!!! ~:)

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 03:13 p.m.

    Thanks Kate, the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning framework you developed was key in our argumentation structure for Geniverse. We’re excited about your current work in supporting teachers learning about argumentation, too!

  • Icon for: Teresa Eastburn

    Teresa Eastburn

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 02:38 p.m.

    Wow, Geniverse has employed numerous strategies that research has shown us to be effective in learning, but it also is leading the way with new questions around state-of-the-art learning tools it seems. I love the clever gamification of a topic that too often lacks creativity in the classroom with an approach that is fun and spans middle school to post secondary. What have you learned about the differences in ways MS students approach the game as compared to students in post secondary? How if at all does the game adapt to the different levels among learners? I especially like how you are reaching out to industry experts to enhance the learning and making connections with the real world out there. The tutoring system sounds like every teacher’s dream to give effective feedback when it is most effective and promotes the most learning – in the moment. The project seems “off and running.” When does funding for Geniverse end, and if it continues, what are the key research questions you seek to answer ahead?

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 11:17 p.m.

    Hi Teresa, we are actually just at the beginning of both the middle school project (GeniConnect, through 2018) and the high school intelligent tutoring/teacher feedback system project (GeniGUIDE, through 2019). The college-level work is also very new. (The ‘off and running’ aspect is due to our previous work at the high school level.) In GeniConnect our research interests are centered around how the suite of experiences we provide can be developed, coordinated, and assessed using an evidence-centered design framework and how community-based afterschool programs and industry can partner effectively— finding and disseminating methods and processes that can aid them in forming meaningful and productive partnerships. In the GeniGUIDE project we are focussed on how an ITS-based learner guidance system can best expose information about student practices and conceptual understanding, and how such a guidance system can change the interactions that take place around learning in the classroom. Thank you for your great questions, and feel free to follow up for clarity on on any aspect.

  • Icon for: Teresa Eastburn

    Teresa Eastburn

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 10:58 a.m.

    Thanks Frieda! Good luck moving forward. Congrats on a great project!

  • Icon for: Susan Kowalski

    Susan Kowalski

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 16, 2016 | 03:49 p.m.

    I enjoyed seeing how Geniverse is being used in so many environments and in so many different ways! What a fun way to help students understand complex genetics ideas.

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 09:25 p.m.

    Thank you Sue! We’re excited to be moving toward engaging people of all ages, in and out of school, in genetics and DNA science.

  • Icon for: Teresa Eastburn

    Teresa Eastburn

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 10:57 a.m.

    Thanks Frieda. Congrats on a great product and good luck moving forwad with GeniConnect and GeniGUIDE!

  • Icon for: Lauren Allen

    Lauren Allen

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 01:48 p.m.

    I agree with other commenters, this looks like a really great program that’s getting students of many ages excited about learning genetics. Do you have any plans to examine or experiment with mixed-age groups of genetics learners using these connected programs? I would be excited to hear how middle, high school, and college students interact around the ideas they all learn using the dragon breeding program, and if it increases engagement to see that many other ages and kinds of students are doing it.

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 08:32 p.m.

    What an interesting idea Lauren! That would be really neat to investigate. We can think about how we might work that in, though it is not part of our explicit research plans. Could be a proposal idea though! :-)

  • Icon for: Roger Taylor

    Roger Taylor

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 06:57 p.m.

    Hi Frieda, I really like your team’s narrative and game-based approach to motivating students to wrestle with this challenging scientific topic. To get a better sense of a student’s perspective I tried out the online Demo version. I didn’t see much genetic information embedded in the system and was wondering if there was an in-game “Dragon DNA” tutorial or encyclopedia. Could you also talk more about the ITS that you’re planning on adding.

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 09:21 p.m.

    Hi Roger, Thanks so much for bringing this up! I think that by “genetic information embedded in the system,” you are referring to supporting information for students, rather than genetic information per se, which is embedded in the engine that powers the game and makes the genetics accurate and realistic. It’s important to realize that up until now, Geniverse has been played in high school classrooms with teachers very involved in the students’ experience, supporting learning with small group work, whole class discussions, and teacher guides that contain worksheets and suggested lesson plans. Our extensive teacher support website, Geniversity, offers these and many more materials as well as a forum (http://geniverse.concord.org/geniversity/home).

    For the GeniConnect project, we are re-designing Geniverse to support learners who are not in biology classrooms, so we will be adding some more explicit supports which could include tutorials and/or other materials. The ITS (see below) will also need to recognize when students need this sort of support and we’ll be working to tailor the responses appropriately, of course.

    Just in case you are looking for DNA content specifically, we introduce gene sequences at the end of Case 6, where students can navigate through the genome, visualize the DNA sequence difference between alleles, and transcribe/translate the alleles into proteins, which fold dynamically (in two dimensions).

    GeniGUIDE is developing a hybrid system that partners ITS with the classroom teacher. The idea is to to harness the rich user models of ITS while also leveraging the pedagogical expertise of the teacher, together with the system’s aggregated knowledge of the class as a whole. At a more basic level, the ITS should also support students who have less background knowledge. We are currently exploring and analyzing the logs of student actions in the game to build the student model, while also working with experienced, master Geniverse teachers to gather more information on their varied pedagogies and learn about the information they’d find most valuable to have at their fingertips in real time.

    Does this help answer your questions? Please feel free to ask more specifically, if I haven’t hit the mark.

  • Icon for: Chad Dorsey

    Chad Dorsey

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 08:58 a.m.

    Thanks for the interest, Roger. As Frieda mentions, we’re working to integrate ITS capabilities from our collaborators at North Carolina State University into Geniverse in a way that we believe can help at three different levels. On the basic student level, we expect that we’ll be able to use ITS capabilities to help students with predictable issues they run into, thus smoothing their path and alleviating some need for teachers to address these common issues. On the teacher level, we’ll be creating a way for the intelligent tutoring system to “hand off” to teachers at points where issues can’t easily be addressed by the system. In doing so, we will take advantage of the user-specific information that the system has collected and built up over time to provide contextual information to the teacher (I think of it like an aide in the classroom that helps a student until they’re at a point where the teacher should take over and then updates the teacher on the student’s status as they hand off the assistance role). On the student-to-student side, we hope to be able to build in a middle layer, in which we can identify places where the tutoring system is not able to help effectively, but other students may be. In this layer, we may give students a list of several nearby classmates who have recently completed the challenge they are stuck on and let them choose whom to connect with, thus working in a more comfortable situation and freeing the teacher up to address the areas of greatest need in the classroom.

  • Icon for: Roger Taylor

    Roger Taylor

    Facilitator
    May 20, 2016 | 12:30 p.m.

    Hi Frieda. I had my work on the Teachable Agents system in the back of my mind when thinking about your project. In our case we were in middle schools with excellent teachers, but there was a wide range of students’ skills (and high student-to-teacher ratios) so we needed to embed a great deal of the support information into the program. This had the advantage of giving us more information about the trajectories about students’ cognitive and emotional states.

    Hi Chad. Adding the ITS will be challenging but, as you point out, it’ll have many benefits. I’m especially interested in seeing how things work out with the teacher hand-offs and student-to-student interactions. Good luck!

  • Icon for: Steve Bean

    Steve Bean

    Enterprise Director, Digital NEST, Watsonville CA
    May 18, 2016 | 11:01 a.m.

    This is genius. Have been able to ID typologies of students who have struggled to grasp these concepts in all the other formats who thrive when they have the opportunity to learn it through your gamified, fantasy-themed approach?

  • Icon for: Chad Dorsey

    Chad Dorsey

    Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 10:21 a.m.

    Thanks so much, Steve. We’re glad to hear you think it’s a valuable approach. To at least partially answer your question, we’re interested in typifying what about this approach works best for whom, and that we’ve seen it work well for many students. We have at times identified that students who are “gamers” take to this approach a bit better, but have generally observed that it doesn’t put off students who are not self-identified gamers at the same time. We have also definitely seen anecdotal cases of precisely what you mention – students who are “checked out” in many other aspects of school or biology who have surprised their teachers significantly by their achievement using Geniverse.

  • Icon for: Jacqueline Miller

    Jacqueline Miller

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 18, 2016 | 02:02 p.m.

    It is wonderful to see that the dragons are alive and well and still reproducing. The program has evolved in fantastic ways and is a real demonstration of how students can become engaged and motivated with the right approaches. Speaking of evolving, are there opportunities for students to connect genes, variation, and traits to natural selection and evolution? Great work!!

  • Icon for: Frieda Reichsman

    Frieda Reichsman

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 05:04 p.m.

    Hi Jacquie, you are reading our minds - opportunities abound, in theory, not yet realized. We have linked our population genetics model to our transmission genetics engine, and we hope to move in this direction soon. Two current proposals would fund this research and development. Fingers crossed… Thanks for your praise and good suggestion.

  • Icon for: Stephen Koury

    Stephen Koury

    Research Associate Professor
    May 23, 2016 | 01:33 p.m.

    I got to see the game in action a bit at the STELAR PI meeting. It looks fantastic and does a great job of making the learning of fundamental of genetics fun!

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

  1. Chad Dorsey
  2. https://concord.org/about/staff/chad-dorsey
  3. President and CEO
  4. Geniverse
  5. http://concord.org/geniverse
  6. Concord Consortium
  1. Frieda Reichsman
  2. https://concord.org/about/staff/frieda-reichsman
  3. Senior Research Scientist
  4. Geniverse
  5. http://concord.org/geniverse
  6. Concord Consortium
Facilitators’
Choice

Geniverse: An online world of dragons and genetics experimentation
DRL-0733264, DRL-1503311 and DRL-1513086

Geniverse is free, online, game-based software that engages students in exploring heredity and genetics by breeding and studying virtual dragons. Used by tens of thousands of students around the world, Geniverse opens up the possibility of genetics learning to students from middle school through higher education. In the process, it encourages student argumentation and inquiry-based learning. In the GeniConnect project, we are connecting afterschool students with biotech scientists from nearby firms, giving them a chance to play Geniverse side-by-side while also learning about what genetics looks like in the real world. In the GeniGUIDE project, we are adding an intelligent tutoring system to Geniverse, supporting students directly,​ but also relaying information in real time back to the most intelligent tutor in the room – the teacher – to help in crafting strategies for success. Geniverse has enabled thousands of teachers and students to see that, rather than being a topic learned by studying experiments from a textbook, genetics is an exciting and active, experiment-driven science.