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MiBoard: Metacognitive Training Through Gaming. Justin F. Brunelle Old Dominion University Kyle B. Dempsey, University of Memphis G. Tanner Jackson, University of Memphis Chutima Boonthum, Hampton University Irwin B. Levinstein, Old Dominion University

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Miboard metacognitive training through gaming

MiBoard: Metacognitive Training Through Gaming

Justin F. Brunelle Old Dominion University

Kyle B. Dempsey, University of Memphis

G. Tanner Jackson, University of Memphis

Chutima Boonthum, Hampton University

Irwin B. Levinstein, Old Dominion University

Danielle S. McNamara, University of Memphis


  • Introduction

  • The iSTART Project

  • Overview of MiBoard

    • Origin

    • Rules

  • Game play of MiBoard

  • Technical Aspects of MiBoard

  • Future Work

Introduction names
Introduction - Names

  • Justin Brunelle

    • ODU Computer Science Graduate Student

    • jbrunelle@cs.odu.edu

  • Interactive Strategy Trainer for Active Reading and Thinking (iSTART)

  • Multiplayer Interactive Board Game (MiBoard)

Introduction istart
Introduction - iSTART

  • Web Based

  • Trains high school students to become better readers

    • Science texts

  • Animated Agents

    • Guide and instruct students in each module

    • Genie, Merlin

  • Instruction provided in Modules:

    • Introduction

    • Demonstration

    • Practice

      • Will Utilize MiBoard

Introduction practice
Introduction - Practice

  • Practice and Extended Practice

  • Problem with Extended Practice

    • Repetitive and tedious

    • Leads to disengagement and lack of interest

Introduction miboard
Introduction - MiBoard

  • Extension of iSTART Practice

  • Goals:

    • Provide opportunity to practice

    • Increase engagement

    • Provide collaborative/social learning environment


  • Funded by National Science Foundation

  • Online Tutoring system

  • Focuses on science texts

    • Complex!

  • Teaches active reading

    • Metacognitive strategies

      • When used, increase comprehension of a text

Istart strategies
iSTART - Strategies

  • Metacognitive Strategies

    • Comprehension monitoring

      • being aware of how well one understands what one is reading

    • Paraphrasing

      • restate the sentence content in their own words

    • Prediction

      • predicting what will come next in the text

    • Elaboration

      • linking information in the sentence to information you already know

    • Bridging

      • linking different parts of a text together

Istart self explanation se
iSTART – Self Explanation (SE)

  • Students use strategies to create self explanations

  • Creating self explanations makes students

    • More successful at solving problems

    • More likely to generate inferences

    • Able to construct more coherent mental models

    • Develop a deeper understanding of the concepts covered in the text

  • [2], [3]

Istart modules
iSTART - Modules

  • Instruction occurs in stages

    • Introduction

    • Demonstration

    • Practice & Extended Practice

  • We will focus on the Practice and Extended Practice

Istart introduction module
iSTART – Introduction Module

  • Three animated agents

    • Provide instruction on each strategy

    • Provide information

    • Pose questions

    • Provide explanations of SEs and the reading strategies

  • Includes for each strategy:

    • Example text and SEs

    • Quiz

Istart demonstration module
iSTART – Demonstration module

  • Two Agents

    • One instructor, one trainee

    • Interact to show how to compose SEs

      • (And consequently, use the software.)

      • Agents read the text, then make the self explanation

  • Student selects which strategy the trainee agent used

    • Feedback given by the instructor agent

  • Mimics the practice module

Istart practice module
iSTART – Practice Module

  • Instructor Agent

    • Reads text

  • Student creates own self explanation

  • Instructor provides feedback

  • Student may be required to modify his SE

  • Student identifies the strategy he used

  • Leads to Extended Practice

    • Same as practice, but over time to allow practice creating SEs

Istart findings
iSTART - Findings

  • Students who have used iSTART have increased comprehension over those who do not

  • iSTART online training is as effective as live training

  • Readers of all skill levels benefit

    • Skilled readers make more connections within a text (bridging)

    • Less skilled readers learn more basic skills (paraphrasing)

[5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10]

Istart extended practice
iSTART – Extended Practice

  • Research indicates need for extended practice

    • Effects of iSTART taper over time

    • Less skilled readers need additional practice

  • Current extended practice is repetitive

    • Leads to disengagement and lack of interest among students


Miboard goals
MiBoard Goals

  • Provide an engaging method of Extended Practice

    • Meant as a supplement to Extended Practice, not replacement

  • Accommodate all students

  • Allow further practice of iSTART strategies

  • Based on a physical game system

Istart the board game
iSTART: The Board Game

  • Developed by Dr. Mike Rowe

  • Implemented iSTART Practice in a game environment

    • Goal is to move around a board

      • Roll dice and draw cards (like Monopoly)

    • A student creates a SE from a text included with the game

    • Other students guess what strategy was used

    • A discussion is initiated to resolve disagreement

  • Refer to Appendix A for the rules of Rowe’s game

Istart the board game findings
iSTART: The Board Game - Findings

  • Effective form of Extended Practice

  • Increased engagement; more enjoyable

  • Rowe’s dissertation mentions a digital version would further increase engagement



  • Virtual version of iSTART: The Board Game

  • Random text chosen from a database

  • Text revealed gradually over the course of the game

Miboard rules
MiBoard - Rules

  • Rules were adapted from Rowe’s game

    • Digitalization allows for simplification

  • New features added to ensure educational environment

    • Limiting availability of the chat

  • Rules are outlined briefly over the next three slides

Miboard game rules
MiBoard – Game Rules

  • Everyone will take turns being a reader (starting with Player 1)

  • Being the READER:

    • Given text with a target sentence in BOLD

    • Given a strategy and a point value

    • Provide a SE of the target sentence using the given strategy

  • After the READER finishes his/her self-explanation all players are directed to the GUESSER screen

    • All players read the SE created by the READER and indicate the strategy used

Miboard game rules1
MiBoard – Game Rules

  • Once all players have entered his/her GUESS, the SUMMARY screen will present the points scored for all players

  • The READER then

    • Rolls the dice to moves his/her token

    • Then draws an event card

  • The next player will then take his/her turn being the READER

Miboard game play
MiBoard – Game Play

  • A list and description of the game screens can be found in Appendix B

Miboard preliminary results
MiBoard – Preliminary Results

  • Players left with nothing to do

    • Leads to reduction in engagement

  • Screen progression is confusing

    • Players get frustrated

    • (More information on screen progression in Appendices A and B)

  • Lack of emphasis on game aspects

Lulls in the action
Lulls in the action

  • Spots in which users have no task to occupy them

    • While Reader is constructing his self-explanation

  • Example of effective physical game aspect but ineffective virtual game aspect

    • In iTG, users saw the mental process of SE construction

    • MiBoard cannot provide visualizations of this activity

Screen progression
Screen Progression

  • iTG has several stages in which a game can be

    • Reading, Guessing, Discussing, etc.

  • Each of these stages was converted into an entity (screen) in MiBoard

    • Reader Screen, Guesser Screen, etc.

Screen progression1
Screen Progression

  • Transitions to the next stage happened fluidly in iTG

    • Physical game components always visible

  • Transitions in MiBoard were confusing to inexperienced users

    • Distracting and Confusing

    • Parts of the game were hidden to force focus of the user on the task at hand

Game aspects
Game Aspects

  • iTG allowed users to constantly see a reminder of the game aspects via physical elements

  • MiBoard users were forced to focus on the current task

    • Voting, explaining, etc.

  • Lead to inadequate or limited use of game aspects, such as rolling, moving, and event cards

Miboard technical innovations
MiBoard – Technical Innovations

  • Preliminary framework for multiplayer flash games

  • Developed with:

    • Flash programming language ActionScript 3.0

    • JavaScript

    • Java Server Pages (JSP)

    • MySQL

    • ElectroServer

Miboard electroserver
MiBoard - Electroserver

  • Multiplayer server product

    • Specializes in multiplayer Flash games

    • Has own set of ActionScript abstract data types

  • Provides infrastructure for Chatting

  • Public messages

    • Sent to all connected clients within a room or zone

Miboard electroserver1
MiBoard - Electroserver

  • Room and Zone ADTs

    • Zones contain rooms

    • Rooms contain a number of players participating in a single game

  • A MiBoard game is contained in a room of 3 to 4 players

Miboard control passing
MiBoard – Control Passing

  • Participating clients have round-robin master-slave relationship

    • Each client contains code to run the entire game

  • When a client is a reader

    • Client controls the game by passing public messages to each client in the room

  • When a client finishes its turn, it relinquishes control to the next player

Miboard game chat relationship
MiBoard – Game-Chat Relationship

  • MiBoard Game Movie:

    • User interacts with the movie

    • Relevant messages are sent to the Chat Movie

    • Receives message from the chat and reflects the message content in the Game Movie

  • Chat Movie

    • Broadcasts the message as a Public Message to all other Chat Movies, or…

    • Receives a message and sends it to the Game Movie

Miboard infrastructure
MiBoard – Infrastructure

  • ActionScript 3.0

    • Not meant for database communication

    • Can’t communicate with other non-movie entities

    • Can only reference the calling entity

      • The web browser in this case

      • Called ExternalInterface

Miboard externalinterface
MiBoard - ExternalInterface

  • ExternalInterface has a call property

  • ExternalInterface.call( “myFunc”, “myParam” )

    • invokes the calling entity’s myFunc function with the parameter myParam

Miboard externalinterface1
MiBoard - ExternalInterface

  • MiBoard web page is JSP

  • Contains Chat Movie and Game Movie

  • ExternalInterface calls reference JavaScript functions

  • Movies call JavaScript functions that call ActionScript functions in the opposite movie

Miboard externalinterface2
MiBoard - ExternalInterface

  • Example: Player 2 has moved 3 spaces

  • Game Movie

    • Tells the JavaScript to tell the chat Player 2 moved 3 spaces

  • Chat Movie

    • Broadcasts the public message to all connected players

    • The receiving chat movie tells its JavaScript to tell the board movie the passed message

  • Game Movie

    • Parses the message, and moves Player 2’s token

Miboard future work
MiBoard – Future Work

  • Focus on improving human-computer interface (HCI)

  • Reduce idle time and increase pace of the game

  • Reduce game states and allow greater user control over the progression between states

  • Strengthen link between iSTART skill set and game aspects of MiBoard


  • MiBoard accomplishments:

    • Technical mastery of multiplayer gaming environment

    • Unification of iSTART principles in a distributed environment

    • Creation of algorithms for future game endeavors

  • Conversion of physical game to virtual and distributed environment was more difficult than anticipated

  • Identification of HCI aspects in need of improvement

  • Learning experience!


  • Special thanks to the iSTART Game Team at the University of Memphis and at Old Dominion University

  • Thank you SCiP for hosting Conference

  • Thank you to my audience for attending


  • D.S. McNamara, I.B. Levinstein, and C. Boonthum, “iSTART: Interactive strategy trainer for active reading and thinking,” in Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, vol. 36, 2004, pp. 222-233.

  • M.T.H. Chi, M. Bassok, M. Lewis, P. Reimann, and R. Glaser, “Self-explanation: How students study and use examples in learning to solve problems,” Cognitive Science, vol. 13, 1989, pp. 145-182.

  • M.T.H. Chi, N. De Leeuw, M. Chiu, and C. LaVancher, “Eliciting self explanations improves understanding,” Cognitive Science, vol. 18, 1994, pp.439-477.

  • D.S. McNamara, C. Boonthum,, I.B. Levinstein, and K.K. Millis, “Evaluating self-explanation in iSTART: Comparing word-based LSA systems,” in T. Landauer, D.S. McNamara, S. Dennis, and W. Kintsch eds., Handbook of Latent Semantic Analysis, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, 2007, pp. 227-241.

  • D.S. McNamara, “SERT: Self-explanation reading training,” Discourse Processes, vol. 38, 2004, pp. 1-30.

  • T. O’Reilly, G.P. Sinclair, and D.S. McNamara, “Reading strategy training: Automated versus live,” Proceedings of the 16th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society, 2004, pp. 1059-1064.

References cont d
References (cont’d)

  • T. O’Reilly, R. Best, and D.S. McNamara, “Self-explanation reading training: Effects for low-knowledge readers,” in K.Forbus, D. Gentner, and T. Regier eds., Proceedings of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, MahWah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2004, pp. 1053-1058.

  • T.P. O’Reilly, G.P. Sinclair, and D.S. McNamara, “iSTART: a web-based reading strategy intervention that improves students’ science comprehension,” in Kinshuk, D.G. Sampson, and P. Isaias eds., Proceedings of the IADIS International Conference on Cognition and Eploratory Learning in the Digital Age: CELDA, Lisbon, Portugal: IADIS Press, 2004, pp. 173-180.

  • R.S. Taylor, T. O’Reilly, G.P. Sinclair, and D.S. McNamara, “Enhancing learning of expository science texts in a remedial reading classroom via iSTART,” in S. Barab, K. Hay, and D. Hickey eds., Proceedings of the 7th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2006.

  • T. O’Reilly, R.S. Taylor, and D.S. McNamara, “Classroom based reading strategy training: Self-explanation vs. reading control,” in R. Sun and N. Miyake eds., Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2006, pp 1887-1892.

  • J.P. Magliano, S. Todaro, K.K. Millis, K. Wiemer-Hastings, H.J. Kim, and D.S. McNamara, “Changes in reading strategies as a function of reading training: A comparison of live and computerized training,” Journal of Educational Computing Research, vol. 32, 2005, pp. 185-208.

  • M.E. Gredler, “Games and simulations and their relationships to learning,” in D.H. Jonassen ed., Handbook of research on educational communications and technology, Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 2nd ed., 2004, pp. 571-582.

  • M. Rowe, “Alternate forms of reading comprehension strategy practice and game-based practice methods,” Doctoral Dissertation, Psychology Department, the University of Memphis, 2008

Thank you
Thank You!


Appendix a istart the board game rules
Appendix A – iSTART: The Board Game Rules

  • Pieces:

    • 4 Game boards

    • 6 Player Tokens

    • 1 Monster Token

    • 120 event cards

    • 6 sets of 5 strategy cards

    • 20 Task cards

    • 20 power cards

Appendix a istart the board game rules1
Appendix A – iSTART: The Board Game Rules

  • Player Turn:

  • Take the top card off the Task Card deck (Do not show other players)

  • Read a passage from the text selected aloud

    • Read at least one sentence. For more advanced players, multiple sentences can be read.

    • If using the same text as other players

      • Continue where last reader left off, or

      • If you are the first reader, select a place to begin reading

    • If using a different text than other readers

      • Continue where you left off, or

      • If you are just beginning, select a place to begin reading

  • Self-explain the text aloud, using one or both strategies on the Task Card so the other players can hear you

    • If the reader uses one strategy correctly, the reader gets all the points listed next to the strategy.

    • If the reader uses both strategies correctly, the reader gets double the larger point value on the card.

Appendix a istart the board game rules2
Appendix A – iSTART: The Board Game Rules

  • All the other players will attempt to guess what strategy the reader used

    • Other players (guessers) will place one of their Strategy Cards face down in front of them

  • All guessers will turn over their Strategy Cards at once.

    • Beginning to the reader’s left and continuing clockwise each guesser should state what their guess is

    • If there is no disagreement, score points

      • If the strategy matches how the reader self-explained, and is on the Task Card, the guesser gets half the points listed next to the strategy rounded down

      • If the strategy matches how the reader self-explained, but is NOT on the Task Card, the guesser gets 1 point

      • If the strategy does not match how the reader self-explained, the guesser gets no points.

    • If there are disagreements, do not score points until disagreement is resolved 

Appendix a istart the board game rules3
Appendix A – iSTART: The Board Game Rules

  • All players discuss whether the strategy use and guesses were correct.

    • Beginning with disagreements about the reader’s strategy use.

      • A majority of players must agree that the reader did not use a specific strategy.

      • The reader can attempt to explain their self-explanation and show how it was a correct use.

      • If a majority still disagrees, the reader can try again to use the strategy again for half points

    • After the reader’s strategy use has been resolved, continue with the guesser to the reader’s left.

      • A majority of players must agree that the reader did not use the guessed strategy.

      • The guesser can attempt to explain why their guess is correct and where it was used in the self-explanation.

      • If a majority still disagrees, no points are scored

      • After the disagreement is resolved continue clock-wise to the next disagreement.

Appendix a istart the board game rules4
Appendix A – iSTART: The Board Game Rules

  • The player may now use any Power Card they have

  • Roll dice

  • Move token all the spaces on the die

  • Take an Event Card

    • Perform the action on the event card

  • After all players have completed one (1) turn the round ends

    • Roll 1 die for monster movement

    • Move the monster half the number shown rounded down


Appendix b miboard screens
Appendix B – MiBoard Screens

  • Game Board

    • The basic game board of MiBoardincludes the playing field, 4 player tokens, a message box, a list of players with associated scores and tokens, a button for drawing event cards, seeing the text, and getting help. The event cards cannot be drawn until after the player rolls.

Appendix b miboard screens1
Appendix B – MiBoard Screens

  • Chat

    • The chat is used for the idle players to converse and for sending messages between connected players. The chat is also the medium in which players discuss disagreements in voting. The chat is only enabled during discussions and when the players are idle. In order to retain the attention of the idle players, they are allowed to chat with other idle members of the game.

Appendix b miboard screens2
Appendix B – MiBoard Screens

  • The Discussion includes a set of rules (in red) and enabling of the chat room. This player has forfeited his responses by clicking the “Pass” button. After the discussion, the players see the Guesser screen, where they may select as many strategies as they like.

Appendix b miboard screens3
Appendix B – MiBoard Screens

  • Reader Screen

    • At the Reader Screen, the Reader reads the sentence for which he is to provide a SE, and types his SE, focusing on the provided strategy. He has the option of choosing a random, new strategy or a random, new point value by clicking on the appropriately labeled buttons.

Appendix b miboard screens4
Appendix B – MiBoard Screens

  • Guesser Screen

    • At the Guesser Screen, players select the strategy they think was focused on by the Reader. The Guesser may only choose one such strategy at this stage in the game.

Appendix b miboard screens5
Appendix B – MiBoard Screens

  • The Cascading Menu Block is part of the Guesser Screen. It is called cascading because each time a user clicks on a check box, a new screen appears. A use is asked to click a strategy, then a reason for that selection (such as, Linked to a specific sentence), and then is asked to highlight the part of the SE in which that particular strategy was used.

Appendix b miboard screens6
Appendix B – MiBoard Screens

  • Summary Screen

    • The Summary Screen provides a summary of the explanations built by the Cascading Menu Block, as well as a summary of points earned in the round.

Appendix b miboard screens7
Appendix B – MiBoard Screens

  • Power Cards

    • A user may use a power card by clicking on the blue power card button to bring up the power card screen