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GroundsKeeper: A Qualitative Study of Applied Game-based Interactives in Special Education Programs

This study has been completed.
Ohio University
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
CogCubed, Corp Identifier:
First received: March 6, 2013
Last updated: July 29, 2016
Last verified: July 2016
The purpose of this study is to examine the use of, and reaction to, one particular software application(GroundsKeeper) delivered on unique platform - Sifteo cubes ( The hypothesis is that the use of these devices will increase engagement, motivation, interest, and have perceived benefits to users with unique attention-limiting cognitive disabilities. How does the observation of and user feedback from gameplay reveal areas of improvement for the game, strengths, and perceptions of value among the players and adults?

Condition Intervention
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Asperger's Disorder
Device: Groundskeeper

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: GroundsKeeper: A Qualitative Study of Applied Game-based Interactives in Special Education Programs

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by CogCubed, Corp:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Number of Participants With an Increase/Improvement in Focusing [ Time Frame: 3 weeks ]
    Researchers will observe and record data during the first play session. Over the three weeks, teachers/support staff will be asked to observe players each day and record their observations as needed in a journal. These observations will measure their improvement in their ability to focus by assessing their engagement, time played, frequency of play, ability to complete a session and ability to start and finish a session. At the end of three weeks, researchers will attend the final play session and record observations in writing.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Pre Interview With Participants to Qualitatively Identify Interest and Motivation [ Time Frame: Day 1 ]
    Researchers will conduct interviews with players and collect all notes/journals recorded. Specific questions will be asked about their perception of their attention, interest and motivation to play the game. Themes of the answers will be identified by researchers as a qualitative measure of interest.

Other Outcome Measures:
  • Pre Interview With Teachers to Qualitatively Identify Themes of Motivation and Interest [ Time Frame: Day 1 ]
    Researchers will conduct interviews with teachers and collect all notes/journals recorded. Specific questions will be asked about their perception of participant's attention, interest and motivation to play the game. Themes of the answers will be identified by researchers as a qualitative measure of interest.

  • Post Interview With Participants to Qualitatively Identify Themes of Interest and Quality of Life Effects [ Time Frame: Day 21 ]
    After playing game for three weeks, researchers will interview participants about their interest in the game and changes in quality of life (no forms).

  • Post Interview With Teachers to Qualitatively Assess Interest in Using the Game With Students and Any Improvements to be Made [ Time Frame: Day 21 ]
    Researchers will ask teachers for qualitative feedback once participants have completed game play about interest in using the game and any improvements to be made.

Enrollment: 21
Study Start Date: January 2013
Study Completion Date: May 2013
Primary Completion Date: May 2013 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Play Groundskeeper
This study will employ design-based research models (Laurel, 2003) to the executive-functioning training game GroundsKeeper by CogCubed; we will assess the quality of digital designs for learning (Barab & Squire, 2004) using established qualitative data collection to analyze game play and player reaction over a three week period of time. We will assess the participants for their ability to stay engaged in play by observing their engagement in the game, time played, frequency of play, and the ability to complete a session over the course of three weeks while in school.
Device: Groundskeeper
Groundskeeper is a product developed for helping players develop skills to increase focus and attention. The game is played on small Sifteo Cubes that have sensors that react to you and each other. There are new games that might help children with ADHD and Autism learn to better focus and keep attention on a task.
Other Name: Executive Function Training Game

Detailed Description:

Primarily the investigators seek to observe and interview participants over a three-week period of time to assess their ongoing interest and the perceived effects of regular play segments each day (10-20 minutes each). Data will be collected in pre/post interviews, teacher journals, and observation of pre/post play sessions.

These new hands-on digitized cubes are motion sensitive blocks that are capable of interactively reacting to each other and motion applied to them. The game GroundKeeper makes use of these cubes to use auditory and visual stimuli to provide distractors during play apart from the goal of the game. The investigators expect that play will encourage attention in players and are interested to see what players and their teachers/parents perceive the effects to be.

The investigator's goal is not to measure actual attention rates and times of the students, but the subjective observations of players' engagement with the devices, motivation to play the game, interest initially and over time, and perceived effect of the game on attention. This type study is commonly known as 'play-testing' a software product with the target audience; a process refined as "design-based research" in academia (Laurel, 2003) and used for assessing the quality of digital designs for learning (Barab & Squire, 2004) and using data to improve them. This study will be a qualitative counter-balance to the quantitative work being done separately by the University of Minnesota (Under Dr. Srivastava), using clinical and computer based diagnostics and data mining respectively on the same product.

Digital tools are facilitating both traditional and '21st century skills' via new information and communication technologies for knowledge work, thinking, learning, and leading digital lifestyles (p. 23) (Trilling & Fadel, 2009). Further there is growing evidence these skills, along with traditional literacies are being learned by using digital applications (Gee, 2007; Squire & Barab, 2004; Steinkuehler & Duncan, 2008). Early evidence that digital tools can 'amplify' learning activity shows potential for digital technology to beneficial even if 'played' or used 'in the wild' (Squire & Dikkers, 2012). This study seeks to further explore learning attributes of a digitally mediated learning experience designed for a particular learning goal.

Additionally, current diagnostic aids, used in treating attention capacity for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism, are currently expensive, time intensive, and provide little information about accessory movements in response to a stimulus. One in ten children, ages 5 to 17, has been diagnosed with ADHD; and the number of kids with autism has increased 78% in the last ten years health/autism/index.html). This study will seek to assess the accessibility and usability of software that seeks to help shape attention strategies through play and 'fun' learning for both ADHD and Autistic children that struggle with attention. If effective this could be a valuable and affordable option for educational institutions to serve these learners.

This study seeks to aid CogCubed in improved design for their game that will improve its' ability to engage, motivate, and retain player interest over time.


Ages Eligible for Study:   5 Years to 12 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • Asperger's Disorder
  • Cognitive Disabilities

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Subject does not have cognitive disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorders
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01808066

United States, Ohio
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio, United States, 45701
Sponsors and Collaborators
CogCubed, Corp
Ohio University
Principal Investigator: Seann Dikkers, PhD Ohio University
  More Information

Trilling, Bernie, & Fadel, Charles. (2009). 21 Century Skills: Learning for Life in our Times. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Steinkuehler, C., & Duncan, S. (2008). Scientific Habits of Mind in Virtual Worlds. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17(6), 530-543. doi: Doi 10.1007/S10956-008-9120-8
Squire, K., & Dikkers, S. (2012). Amplifications of learning: Use of mobile media devices among youth. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, OnlineFirst. doi:10.1177/1354856511429646.
Squire, K., & Barab, S. (2004). Replaying history: Engaging urban undeserved students in learning world history. Paper presented at the 6th international conference on Learning sciences, Los Angeles, CA.
Gee, J. P. (2007). What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan
Barab, S. and K. Squire (2004).
Laurel, B., Ed. (2003). Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press.

Responsible Party: CogCubed, Corp Identifier: NCT01808066     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 12X226
12X226 ( Other Identifier: Ohio University IRB )
Study First Received: March 6, 2013
Results First Received: July 23, 2014
Last Updated: July 29, 2016

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
Autistic Disorder
Developmental Disabilities
Asperger Syndrome
Pathologic Processes
Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Mental Disorders processed this record on May 23, 2017