Visual signaling in virtual world-based assessments: The SAVE Science project

Brian Nelson, Younsu Kim, Cecile Foshee, Kent Slack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this paper we describe a study into the impact of visual signaling techniques used in a virtual world-based assessment of science inquiry and content on (1) student cognitive load and (2) assessment efficiency. The study, run with 7th grade students in the United States, found that use of visual signaling was significantly associated with lower levels of student self-reported cognitive load versus students in a no-signaling version of the assessment. Further, the efficiency of the virtual world-based assessment was significantly higher, as measured by in-world object interaction rates, for students in the visual signaling version of the assessment than for those in the no-signaling treatment. In the paper, we discuss the results and their meaning for the design of virtual world and game-based assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-40
Number of pages9
JournalInformation Sciences
StatePublished - 2014


  • Assessment
  • Game-based learning
  • Instructional design
  • Science education
  • Virtual world

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Artificial Intelligence


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