MyStar Summative Evaluation
In 2011, the Space Science Institute (SSI) engaged Insight Evaluation Services (IES) to conduct a summative evaluation of an online, multi-user space science game called MyStar. The game, which was developed with funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was designed to introduce late middle school-early high school students to the basic concepts of stellar and planetary evolution. IES assessed the effectiveness of MyStar in meeting specific learning goals, including in particular (1) The galaxy has “habitable zones” where planetary formation and/or life is more likely; (2) Stars are born and die, and their life cycle is controlled by their initial mass; (3) The time scale for stellar evolution is on the order of billions of years. IES identified a sample of 20 eighth grade students to play the game for a designated period of time and then participate in a telephone interview about their reactions to the game. The interview assessed students’ opinions on the usability of MyStar (including their suggestions for ways to improve it), as well as what they learned from playing the game. In addition, students’ actions were tracked during play in order to test the success of the game in actual use and to triangulate interview responses. This memo-style report summarizes the results that were obtained; the student interview guide and the IRB-approved consent form are included in the appendices. School and teacher name have been omitted from the report to preserve students' anonymity.