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Jan Plass

Paulette Goddard Professor in Digital Media and Learning Sciences

Administration, Leadership, and Technology


Jan L. Plass is the inaugural holder of the Paulette Goddard chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, where he directs the programs in Educational Communication and Technology. He also co-directs the Games for Learning Institute and is the founding director of the CREATE Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technology in Education. His research is at the intersection of learning science, cognitive sciences, and design, and seeks to enhance the design and effectiveness of visual environments. His current focus is on cognitive and emotional aspects of information design and interaction design of simulations and educational games for science education and second language acquisition. He has received funding for his research from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and from Microsoft Research, Google Research, the Motorola Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Hewlett foundation, and the Verizon Foundation. Dr. Plass received his MA in Mathematics and Physics Education and his Ph.D. in Educational Technologies from Erfurt University (PH Erfurt, Germany).

NYU Institute for Games for Learning

Dr. Plass is Co-Director of the Games for Learning Institute (G4LI), a collaboration of nine partner universities with support from Microsoft Research and the Motorola Foundation. G4LI is dedicated to advancing the design, use, and evaluation of computer games in formal and informal educational settings. The Institute works to provide fundamental scientific evidence of "what works" in games for learning - what makes certain games compelling and playable, and what design elements make games effective for learning. The results provide critically important information to researchers, game developers, and educators, and point the way to a new era of using games for the purpose of learning.

Center for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education

Dr. Plass is the founding director of CREATE, the Center for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education, which is engaged in research on the design, critique, and evaluation of advanced visual technologies for learning. CREATE's mission is to advance the cognitive science and socio-cultural foundations of the educational use of these advanced technologies, develop methods and approaches for the design of technology-based materials based on principles derived from theoretically-sound foundations, implement models, frameworks, and examples of constructionist and instructionist applications based on these methods and principles, and develop and apply methods and criteria for the evaluation of such environments.

Selected Publications

  • Vatanartiran, S., Sirin, S., Homer, B.D., Tsai, T., & Plass, J.L. (in press). Project Hope: Digital Game-based Education for Syrian Refugee Children. Vulnerable Children & Youth Studies.
  • Homer, B.D., Plass, J.L., Rafaele, C., Ober, T. M., & Ali, A. (in press). Improving High School Students' Executive Functions Through Digital Game Play. Computers and Education. Doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2017.09.011
  • Parong, J., Mayer, R.E., Fiorella, L., MacNamara, A., Homer, B.D., & Plass, J.L. (2017). Learning Executive Function Skills by Playing Focused Video Games. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 51, 141–151. Doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2017.07.002
  • Lang, C., Ribeiro, P.C., Biles, M., Silva, C., & Plass, J.L. (2017). Visualizing Log File Data from a Learning Game Using Timed Word Trees. Information Visualization, 1–17. doi: 10.1177/1473871617720810
  • Song, H.; Kalet, A., & Plass, J. (2016). Interplay of prior knowledge, self-regulation and motivation in complex multimedia learning environments. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 32(1), 31–50. doi: 10.1111/jcal.12117
  • Plass, J.L., Homer, B.D., & Kinzer, C. (2015). Foundations of Game-based Learning. Special Issue on Game-based Learning, Educational Psychologist50(4), 258–283.
  • Park, B., Knörzer, L., Plass, J. L., & Brünken, R. (2015). Emotional design and positive emotions in multimedia learning: An eyetracking study on the use of anthropomorphisms. Computers & Education, 86, 30–42.
  • Kwah, H., Milne, C., Tsai, T., Milne, C., Goldman, R. & Plass, J. (2014). Emotional engagement, social interactions, and the development of an afterschool game design curriculum. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 19, 1–28.
  • Homer, B.D., & Plass, J.L. (2014). Level of Interactivity and Executive Functions as Predictors of Learning in Computer-based Chemistry Simulations. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 365–375.


Educational Communication and Technology

Prepare to create, use, and evaluate media and technology through academic and leadership positions in research, technology, and education.


Research on Simulations and Games for Learning

Provides an introduction to research on simulations & games, with a focus on choosing the appropriate approach, e.g., playtesting, evaluation, or efficacy research, & the appropriate methods, e.g., think aloud protocols, video research, eye tracking, EEG/EMG, user log data, or biometrics. Reading assignments, class discussions, & case studies will be used to discuss the goals, methods, design, & setup of these methods & prepare students to design & execute their own playtesting & evaluation research for learning games of their choice.
Course #
EDCT-GE 2520


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