While developing the VOXPOP prototype, we conducted a study regarding its usability and outcomes under the guidance of Camillia Matuk, Associate Professor of Educational Communication and Technology at NYU Steinhardt.
Our study was guided by three broad research questions:
What were the impacts of VOXPOP as perceived by students?
What benefits and challenges did teachers experience in using VOXPOP?
What benefit did role-playing have in encouraging students’ perspective-taking?
Our sample included 7 teachers and 224 students from three public schools in the Northeastern United States, each serving racially, ethnically and economically diverse populations.
Overall, how much did students enjoy VOXPOP?
Students reported a greater than average enjoyment with VOXPOP (Median = “Good,” 2 on a 4-point scale).
"I think this is a really creative and fun way to learn!"
WHAT STUDENTS SAY
"This simulation was extremely helpful for me as a student. Please continue to do this!"
"This was by far the most helpful learning resource I have used in this class. I learned more than I usually do in this class from using this simulation."
"It reminds you that people like you can push laws into place...not only that it’s controlled by the government, but it also can be controlled by the people."
What value did teachers perceive in VOXPOP?
Teachers appreciated that VOXPOP gives students the space to discuss contemporary issues. One teacher said that, because of the volatility of American politics, he tends to avoid debate around current events, which "kind of turns it into a boring class." The role-play mechanics "get kids to really engage, using historical context to flesh out current topics...gun rights, who can vote...we're still arguing about the same thing."
"The students were so involved and passionate."
Teachers noted that the VOXPOP technology was easy for both students and teachers. "The transitions are really fast, and it provides them with just enough information to be able to talk about the issues," said Richard Kermond, a U.S. History teacher in Scituate, MA.
"The context was really easy to follow," said one student. Their classmate agreed, adding that the VOXPOP material "sums everything up really well and gets you into the mindset."
What is the benefit of role-playing?
Teachers noted VOXPOP's effectiveness in conveying the importance of understanding multiple perspectives, and the critical role of role-play in doing so. As one teacher said:
“VOXPOP really gets to the heart of the issue, that there’s multiple perspectives, and the only way to see it is to play it out."
"When you put kids in a position where they have to adopt a scenario and be somebody else, it’s what they remember. Their regular boring days in class they don’t remember."
— Richard Kermond, U.S. History teacher
Scituate High School, Scituate, MA
What lessons did students take from VOXPOP?
We will be running a longitudinal study over the 2020-2021 school year. During this study, we will return to the same classrooms to observe 2-4 role-plays over the course of the year.
We will also continue to test the role-plays one by one. A single role-play requires 1-2 class periods.
If you might be interested in participating in our next round of testing, please contact us! We are happy to answer any questions.