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Evaluating the success of a game-based math program

Background: ST Math is a game-based digital math program for students in grades preschool through 8. Developers and educators invested four years and $3M to evaluate how 50 minutes of engagement per week over the course of one school year would impact players’ math skills. An academic research team looked at players’ standardized test scores, comparing math proficiency pre-ST Math and post-ST Math across treatment and control groups — and found zip-a-dee-doo-dah. You can read more about it here.

No statistically significant results is never a good look. …


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It’s the old catch-22: You need money to do research and you need research to make money.

Call it data, call it insights. Whatever you call it, in the information economy, the smarter you are, the better you’ll do. Research on users’ needs inspires development of high-demand products — and, in the case of educational products, highly effective products. Research on users’ engagement (UX) informs smooth, sticky, and profitable user journeys. Research on products’ impacts empower compelling claims — claims that can win grants, delight funders, and convert discerning consumers. Design should be iterative, responsive to data, because data =…


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Identify how social-emotional learning and school culture/climate drive academic outcomes

The Challenge: Seeking to enhance students’ personal and academic outcomes, more and more K-12 schools are investing in social and emotional learning (SEL) and school culture/climate. Obviously, schools’ time and money are finite, especially in K-12 contexts. And COVID-19-related challenges have only exacerbated this scarcity. Given schools’ limited resources, stakeholders need curriculum and evaluation strategies that get the greatest bang for the buck, so to speak. What should teachers and schools prioritize so 4–12th grade students can succeed?

Transforming Education (aka TransformEd) asked me to partner with them to analyze…


You’ve all heard the reports about how we’ve entered into the “COVID slide,” where students are predicted to retain only about 70% of what they had learned the previous school year. When it comes to math, this number drops to 50%. These rates eclipse those associated with normative summer slide (also called summer learning loss or summer setback).

Many attribute this significant drop-off to the demands of online learning. Not only do students have to regulate their own learning, but they have to do so under circumstances where they may not have the resources to engage with school, which includes…


Whether you are trying to better understand your users’ needs and wants, the price point they are willing to pay, or what they think of your competitors, research interviews are a useful methodology for you. After all, what better way to understand your users than to ask them?

Here are the 9 Dos and Don’ts for conducting better research interviews I’ve pulled from my decade’s experience interviewing parents and kids:

1. Do: Think carefully about the order of the questions you ask

2. Do: Be specific when you ask your questions

3. Do: Practice your interview protocol

4. Do: Introduce…


4 things to consider when designing games for learning

Designing games is tough.

Designing a game where the player has to learn something is even tougher. Children rarely reach for games that scream “education.” Whether the word “learning” is in the title or the play feels more like a lesson than a game, these products are dead in the water. After many long hours engaged with schoolwork, children crave a break from traditional “learning.”

Katerina Schenke, PhD

Katerina Schenke, PhD. is a researcher | learning designer | data scientist

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