Game-enabled agency: Outcomes that matter

Sasha Barab, Anna Arici Barab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Doctors Cure learning experience is a 3D immersive game that positions players as protagonists in a virtual world where they must use their understanding of persuasive writing and how to gain evidence from complex texts in their role of investigative reporter. We report on the underlying educational theory, the game itself, and, to justify its impact, share data from a comparison study with 8 7th grade classes assigned the control and 8 assigned the experimental conditions-about 450 total kids, 90% receive free-and-reduced lunch and 87% are Hispanic. While both the game-based intervention group and the control showed statistically significant learning gains on short-answer and multiple-choice items, the intervention group demonstrated statistically significant gains with a large effect size on an open-ended persuasive essay task. Differences in engagement and learning are credited to player agency, affordances of the embedded scaffolds, and the power of consequential outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-704
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of International Conference of the Learning Sciences, ICLS
Issue numberJanuary
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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