CIRCA:Assessing Higher Order Thinking in Video Games - Rice, John W.


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Assessing Higher Order Thinking in Video Games

Rice, John W. Assessing Higher Order Thinking in Video Games. Jl. of Technology and Teacher Education (2007) 15(1), 87-100. Retrieved from:

Abstract: “Computer video games have become highly interesting to educators and researchers since their sophistication has improved considerably over the last decade. Studies indicate simple video games touting educational benefits are common in classrooms. However, a need for identifying truly useful games for educational purposes exists. […]The article identifies characteristics of highly cognitive virtual interactive environments and offers a detailed index and scoring rubric as a tool for teachers and preservice teachers to use when evaluating the tendencies a video game demonstrates toward encouraging higher order thinking in its participants.” (pg. 87)

Though Rice sees the value in low order thinking educational games such as Math Busters, he feels that more advanced products are necessary to address the upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956), which is comprised of lower to higher order thinking levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. To achieve higher order thinking in games, a virtual interactive environment (VIE) will be necessary. VIEs provide opportunities for complex interactions and excellent participatory leaning, making them ideal environments for higher order learning.

In his scoring rubric (out of twenty), Rice believes games used for education should include the following:

  • Requires users to assume a role rather than simply playing.
  • Offers meaningful interaction such as dialogue with NPCs.
  • Has a storyline with characters users care about.
  • Offers puzzles requiring effort to solve.
  • Uses 3D graphics, allows multiple views, or camera pans and the ability to zoom in and out.
  • Stimulated complex processes requiring adjustment of variable by users to obtain desired results or adjusting variables that lead to different results.
  • Allows interaction through use of avatars and that avatars be lifelike.
  • Requires interaction with virtual elements within the game.
  • Requires knowledge of game elements beyond mouse prompts or numerical entry.
  • Requires gathering information to complete/requires synthesis of knowledge in order to complete or successfully engage elements in the game.
  • Environment effectively replicates the real world.
  • NPCs display AI characteristics effectively
  • Offers replay value with varying results. (pg. 93)
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