The New York-based Education Development Center (EDC) has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supporting the development of handheld games designed to improve reading comprehension among struggling middle school students.
The Gates Foundation grant supports the EDC's two-year research project "Portable Word Play: Discovering What Handheld Games Can do for Adolescent Reading Comprehension," conducted in collaboration with the game development studio 1st Playable Productions.
Researchers at the EDC's Center for Children and Technology will develop and test two games aimed at middle-school students who read below grade level.
1st Playable Productions previously developed the My Virtual Tutor series of Nintendo DS titles supporting elementary school literacy.
"Even students who read at grade level may be overwhelmed by assignments that require them to grasp new vocabulary words and complicated texts and content," said EDC's Shelley Pasnik. "Electronic games can immerse kids in new roles and new worlds that can help them grasp concepts in a different way. Our study will experiment with games that let students play with words in new ways -- experiences that will help them improve their reading skills."