SBIR Phase II: A Serious Game for Job Skills

Period of Performance: 03/15/2017 - 02/28/2019

$747K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

The Language Express, Inc
3564 Torrey View Court Array
San Diego, CA 92130
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR Phase II Project will systematically develop, test, and revise a video game. Emerging technologies, such as educational videogames, have the potential to increase the accessibility of learning materials, promote readiness and knowledge of employment options, and improve students' attitudes toward full-time employment. Unfortunately, the lack of an accessible, coherent career planning system in the United States has left many high school students unprepared to meet the rigorous demands associated with being college and career ready. This project will teach critical life, social, and academic skills related to a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This project is designed to enhance student learning, reduce school costs, and increase the efficacy of transition plans, which are mandated for every student with a disability under Federal law. The game aligns with Common Core Standards and the Universal Design for Learning framework. While this project will be designed for students with disabilities, it is assumed the highly accessible career preparation software will also meet a critical need for other students at risk of learning failure or students without disabilities. This project is a critical component of a comprehensive product line that will provide adolescents with virtual career training. During the project, participants will experience mini-games related to their daily living skills, a "day in the life" of a person in a STEM career, and social skills that those allow individuals to interpret different cultures in a STEM environment. A virtual mentor coaches the student to make choices that will lead to career advancement and explains the hierarchy of jobs within the chosen career. The virtual mentor also provides financial advice throughout the daily living games, modeling exemplary fiscal management and reinforcing decisions that have a high likelihood of leading to financial stability. The project team will build, test, analyze, and revise the mini-games and then compile the revisions into a beta version of the game. Initial friends and family tests of the alpha builds will include qualitative evaluation using observations and interviews. This will be followed with beta testing in public schools using a mixed methods design. Beta testing will include students with and without disabilities in grades six through nine, special education and general education teachers, counselors and parents.