Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

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Learning in the Wild: Evaluating WolfQuest’s impact on game players

TitleLearning in the Wild: Evaluating WolfQuest’s impact on game players
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsSchaller, D., Allison-Bunnell S., Haley Goldman K., Spickelmier G., & Koepfler J.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2009. Proceedings
Conference Start DateApril 15-18, 200
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedIndianapolis, Indiana, USA
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordsconservation behaviors, evaluation, game-based learning, learning game, on-line community, WolfQuest

The enormous popularity of computer and videogames (Lenhard et al. 2008), and the inherent pedagogical qualities of such games (Gee 2003, Squire et al. 2003) has inspired many efforts to create games that successfully fuse compelling gameplay with learning goals. This session examines the results of one such effort. WolfQuest is a 3D wildlife simulation game developed by Eduweb and the Minnesota Zoo, funded by the National Science Foundation, and distributed on-line as a free download for Mac and Windows computers. With over 250,000 game downloads and 30,000 multiplayer game sessions per month, the game has definitely found an audience. But are these players learning what we intended? Summative evaluation found that players do indeed report knowledge gain, stronger emotional attachment to wolves, and significant behavioral outcomes, with large percentages of players following their game sessions with other wolf-related activities, including such further explorations of wolves on the Internet, in books and on television. This paper details the evaluation results from the summative evaluation, discusses the theory behind the project, and reflects on our experience developing the game.