Exploring cognitive load in immersive educational games: The save science project

Brian Nelson, Diane Jass Ketelhut, Catherine Schifter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


SAVE Science is a research project focused on creating an innovative model for assessment of learning in STEM. In SAVE Science, we are implementing game-like modules for evaluating science content and inquiry in grades 7-8, using an assessment rubric of student interactions in a virtual environment designed to capture evolving patterns of scientific understanding among students. We are also investigating two "conditions for success" for virtual environment-based assessment: managing the effects of cognitive load students experience in complex virtual environments, and helping teachers integrate technology into their pedagogy. In this article, we provide an overview of our design approaches aimed at helping students manage the high levels of cognitive load they report experiencing in virtual environments. By reducing the perceived complexity of virtual environment-based assessments, we hypothesize that learners will be better able to attend to the processes associated with the assessments, leading to more accurate evidentiary data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010


  • Cognitive load
  • Design
  • Embedded assessment
  • Immersive games
  • Situated cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications


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