Situating Big Data

Many so-called “big data” analyses of learning focus on technology-rich but talk-poor data sets, even though we know that the activity occurring around the game is as important as the gameplay itself. This project marries theories of situated cognition to the big data movement by connecting clickstream data from games in isolation to interactional data from their context of use. Using multiple methods of analysis – educational data mining, learning analytics, qualitative coding, quantification of qualitative coding, discourse analysis, natural language processing, standard pre/post assessments, and attitudinal surveys – we attempt to provide a more complete model of game-based learning by including both talk and play data equally as a way to better account for learning.

Constance Steinkuehler (lead PI), Matthew Berland, Kurt Squire, Craig Anderson (project lead), John Binzak, Jennifer Dalsen, Pasqueline Scaico, Aybuke Turker, Vishesh Kumar, Vanessa Meschke

Project funding provided by

Games for Healthy Minds

Working with world-renowned neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM), we are working to create games that foster emotional and attentional well-being, that nurture empathy, and that ameliorate distraction and distress. ZenJuvo and Crystals of Kaydor are our first two prototypes. ZenJuvo is a gamified application for practicing mindfullness. Crystals of Kaydor is a role-playing game designed to foster social acuity (the ability to accurately detect another person’s emotional state). Our research on both titles includes telemetry data from gameplay, traditioanl pre/post behavioral measures, and neuroscientific data on the structure and function of the brain.

Constance Steinkuehler & Richie Davidson (lead PIs), Kurt Squire, Mike Beall (design lead), John Binzak (research lead), Craig Anderson, Jennifer Dalsen, Pasqueline Scaico

Project funding provided by:

Makescape Project

This project created a constructionist exhibit (“OZTOC”), which is currently live at the New York Hall of Science; we use the exhibit to understand how an informal engineering museum game can help students learn complex technical content. To understand the impact on students, particularly those in middle school, the project logs student activities, collaboration, and interactions as well as collect post-visit data from participants. The broader significance and importance of this project arises from the potential to inform how museum exhibits, which reach millions of diverse and under-represented students annually, can be used to help students follow pathways into engineering.

Matthew Berland, Leilah Lyons (NY Hall of Science) (lead PIs), Mike Tissenbaum, Adam Mechtley, Lauren Wielgus, Rebecca Eydt (NY Hall of Science)

Project funding provided by

Representative Games & Publications


Danielak, B. A., Mechtley, A., Berland, M., Lyons, L., & Eydt, R. (2014, June). MakeScape lite: a prototype learning environment for making and design. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Interaction design and children (pp. 229-232). ACM.

Lyons, L., Tissenbaum, M., Berland, M., Eydt, R., Wielgus, L., & Mechtley, A. (2015, June). Designing visible engineering: supporting tinkering performances in museums. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 49-58). ACM.

Play Data Consortium

The Learning Games Play Data Consortium is a national consortium on learning analytics to design and specify a set of data collection and analysis tools on a shared, open source platform that will use "big data" theories and techniques to transform clickstream data from games into evidence of player learning. We help partners collect data from learning games play data; we brainstorm new analyses that take advantage of play data to better understand learning and build better games; we design common specifications for potential tools; and we are (broadly) building a community (and new capacities) around learning games play data collection and analysis.

Visit the Playdata Consortium Site

PI, Director: Matthew Berland
CoPI: Kurt Squire
CoPI: Richard Halverson
Constance Steinkuehler (Advisor)
Mike Tissenbaum (Project Manager)
Isaac Goodin (Lead Programmer)
Brian Pelletier (LGN)
Dennis Ramirez
Jazmyn Russell
Lauren Wielgus