UW–Madison’s YJ Kim offers expertise on ‘playful testing’ in news article

Games can be an excellent tool for measuring student learning, according to School of Education faculty member YJ Kim. 

Kim, an assistant professor in the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, recently lent her expertise on the subject to a news story on The 74, a nonprofit education news website. 


The story focused on the growth of what some call “playful assessment.”

“The idea is: Can assessment be more embedded?” Kim said in the story. “Can assessment be more exciting? Can assessment be more flexible?”

In recent years, some organizations that create academic assessments have dipped their toes into gaming. The Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), which produces the widely used MAP Growth test, recently unveiled a physics skills test built on the popular online gaming platform Roblox.

Kim, whose research includes developing playful assessments, pointed out one roadblock to broad adoption of playful testing is the use of assessments to measure teacher performance. 

“At the end of the day, we are obsessed with the idea that ‘Assessment is score: score about performance and proficiency,’’’ she said. 

Kim also noted some teachers are hesitant to embrace games as a serious form of assessment. 

“So for teachers to kind of switch their mindset in terms of, ‘Assessment can be fun, and this is an assessment,’ it’s a mind shift,” she said. 

Before joining UW–Madison, Kim was the founder and director of MIT Playful Journey Lab where she led an interdisciplinary team of game designers, developers, and researchers to create playful assessment tools. 

Kim’s playful assessment research ranges from a computer game using evidence-centered design and analytics techniques to paper-based embedded assessment tools for making. She says the core of her work is close collaboration with practitioners, including empowering teachers to innovate around classroom assessment and use playful and authentic assessment tools that can truly impact student learning.

Read the full article, “Drawing on Video Games, Educators Land on Unlikely Idea: ‘Playful Assessment’,” here

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