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Trace Effects: Program Theory Logic Model


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Trace Effects is a video game that teaches American English and culture in the context of a student entering a university setting for the first time. I conducted an informal evaluation of its program theory. I found the following major concepts behind the game: cognitivism, constructivism, the communicative approach to language acquisition, gaming as an instructional strategy, the TESOL 2008 Technology Standards Framework, and the US Department of State’s vision.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Trace Effects: Program Theory Logic Model

  1. 1. Sandra A. Rogers & R. Burke Johnson University of South Alabama MSERA 2015 Lafayette, LA, USA TRACE EFFECTS: PROGRAM THEORY LOGIC MODEL
  2. 2. What is the program theory behind the Trace Effect video game? Permission granted to use this image.
  3. 3. Outline 1. Describe Trace Effects. 2. Describe this informal program evaluation. 3. Discuss the program theory of Trace Effects. 4. Share the logic model.
  4. 4. Description of Evaluand •Trace Effects is a free, 3-D multimedia interactive video game that can be played from a DVD or online by an individual or as a group. •It has a complimentary mobile app called Trace Word Soup, which is a vocabulary game. •The game teaches American English and culture in the context of a student entering a university setting for the first time.
  5. 5. Program Objectives of Trace Effects •Outreach program of the Office of English Language Programs and the American English resource center. •Department of State’s (DOS) effort to provide English language skills to talented 13-20 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors of the world.
  6. 6. Program Theory Evaluation Evaluator’s Lens: The informal evaluation was conducted according to the pragmatic-use- evaluation-branch (Mertens & Wilson, 2012). Stakeholders: The following key stakeholders participated in the study: script writers, material writers, Regional English Language officers (RELOs), and educators.
  7. 7. Research Questions •What are 3 strengths of the game? •What is the instructional gaming theory used by Trace Effects? •What is the DOS’ belief about gaming as an instructional strategy? •Which educational psychology paradigm(s) is/are the game based on & why?
  8. 8. Research Questions continued… •Which language learning theories, models, and best practices is the game based on? •Which instructional strategies are used in the game design? •Which learning theories, models, or best practices are used to teach culture in the game? •How will one know if users improved their English language ability and/or learned about American culture by using the game?
  9. 9. Logic Modeling Definition: The logic model graphically displays the inputs (investments of effort, time, and money), outputs (activities and participation) & outcomes (short, medium, and long-term objectives). Example from Trace Effects: A proximal outcome for students and teachers is to learn the gaming system, which is a type of e-literacy often included in multi-literacy skill discussions for 21st century learners & educators.
  10. 10. Program Theory of Trace Effects: Part I The program’s learning theory is based on the following learning paradigms: cognitivism, constructivism, the communicative approach to language acquisition, *TESOL’s computer-assisted language learning Technology Standards Framework (2008), & gaming as an instructional strategy. *Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages International Association
  11. 11. Program Theory: Part II Some external factors embedded in the program are derived from the DOS pillars: entrepreneurship, community activism, empowering women, science and innovation, environmental conservation, & conflict resolution.
  12. 12. Logic modeling is a way to provide a graphical representation to illustrate an organization’s effort & its relationship to the outcomes. See my Trace Effects logic model for more information. You can view the game at this address:
  13. 13. CONTACT Sandra A. Rogers PhD Student in Instructional Design University of South Alabama R. Burke Johnson Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies University of South Alabama
  14. 14. References •American English. (2012). [Website]. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved from •Bikowski, D. (2012). Trace Effects teacher’s manual, Part 1: Gaming in education. Office of English Language Programs. Washington, DC: Department of State. •Enhancing program performance with logic models. (2003). University of Wisconsin-Extension Program Development. Retrieved from icmodel.html
  15. 15. References continued •Mertens, D. M., & Wilson, A. T. (2012). Program evaluation theory and practice: A comprehensive guide. New York, NY: Guilford. •Schwartz, K. (2012, December 12). The US State Department gets into the education game [Web log post]. Retrieved from department-gets-in-the-education-game/ •Technology Standards Framework. (2008). TESOL International Association. Retrieved from ds_framework_721.pdf
  16. 16. References continued… •Trace Effects. 2012. [Website]. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved from •Wallin, M. (2013, April 2). Trace Effects: The State Department’s English-teaching video game [Web log post]. Retrieved from ace-effects-the-state-departments-english- teaching-video