Research Cynthia Carter Ching

Designing and Exploring the Impact of Physical Activity Monitor Gaming on Youth Fitness Practices

Led by associate professor Cynthia Carter Ching, this one-year study, funded by the National Science Foundation as an EAGER (Early Concept Grants for Exploratory Research) project, brings together learning sciences and health researchers with professional game designers to develop a behavioral change model for physical activity-monitor gaming that is thus far unique in the existing literatures on games and learning, games for health, and health education/intervention.

In a previous NSF-Funded Cyberlearning: Transforming Education grant project, Ching led a team of researchers and game designers to create a digital game that integrates the data feeds from physical activity monitors and examine broadly the sense-making that youth did around the monitors and the game.

The EAGER grant will provide the team with the opportunity to do very targeted continued development and a small-scale implementation, in which they will focus deeply on developing a theoretical model of how various aspects of the game-and-monitor intervention function with regard to behavior change. The team will employ quantitative techniques of game telemetry and learning analytics to investigate relationships among the data streams of youth in-game actions and their physical activity monitors, combined with a qualitative approach to understanding how these fitness and gaming phenomena are situated in and given meaning by the everyday lives and identities of youth across contexts and settings. The researchers will work with two elective classes (n = 60 youth) in a school that comprises a wide bandwidth of ethnic diversity and socioeconomic status, in a community with varied opportunities for fitness-related activity.

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