About Civ Wiz


Conventional civic learning opportunities at the University have inherent barriers to broad student participation as they are communicated and facilitated disparately and often compete against prevailing academic or social commitments.

Digital learning environments offer distinct advantages for student engagement in civic learning over traditional learning environments, which can present challenges by way of fragmented access, competing programming interests, and lack of clear curricular goals or outcomes

Civics scholars acknowledged that "digital games and simulations could help mitigate inequities in civic education and participation" (Bachen, Hernández-Ramos, Raphael, & Waldron, 2015, p. 1).


The core deliverables of this project are:

  • A digitally accessible, content-rich, and culturally sustainable civic learning platform to aide Pitt students in fostering their civic and cultural competence
  • An objective, longitudinal assessment of the effectiveness of civic learning mobile game applications in increasing students’ civic and cultural competence


The project team aims to address the critical need for the University, and higher education at large, to prioritize campus environments that wholly integrate civic learning into students’ educational experiences across all academic disciplines to equip them to address a spectrum of societal challenges facing them in an increasingly polarized sociopolitical and sociocultural climate (Matto, McCartney, Bennion, & Simpson, 2017). ​

​Achieving broad student participation in civic learning requires advancing educational environments in which civic learning in traditional academic disciplines are complementary, rather than competitive; and in which civic education is pervasive, not partial; central, not peripheral (National Task Force, 2012)​


Research shows that students who actively engage in civic learning are more likely than their peers to “persist in college and complete their degrees; obtain skills prized by employers; and develop habits of social responsibility and civic participation.”

Universities are valuable laboratories for fostering civic competence which not only enhance student experience, but also benefit communities at large by preparing students to actively participate in democratic society (Saltmarsh, 2005). The more the University integrates accessible and robust platforms to increase student civic and cultural competence—such as the proposed mobile civic learning application—the greater its capacity to spur local and global economic vitality, social and political well-being, and collective action to address public problems of injustice and inequality


What is Civic knowledge?

Civic knowledge refers to a body of key concepts and familiarity with the diverse forces (e.g., cultural, historical, economic, religious, sociological) that shape political systems and civic life. This knowledge prepares a person for well-informed and effective participation with others in civic and democratic life to address local, national, or global issues (Association of American Colleges and Universities [(AAC&U], 2009).

What is Cultural Knowledge?

1. Familiarity with various cultural characteristics, including values, belief systems, history, and social mores. Learn more in: Teacher Candidates in International Contexts: Examining the Impact on Beliefs about Teaching Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
2. Familiarization with selected cultural characteristics, history, values, belief systems, and behaviors of the members of another ethnic group ( Adams, 1995 ). Learn more in: The Benefits and Limitations of a Short-Term Study Abroad Program to Prepare Teachers in a Multicultural Society
3. The awareness and sensitivity to existing cultural preferences, values, and behaviors interpreted by an individual that generates cross-cultural competencies aiming to decrease emotional discomfort while increasing respect for other cultures (Hall, 1976; Hofstede, 2001; Pilhofer, 2010; Spradley, 1980; Trompenaars, 1993). Learn more in: Culturally Responsive Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD): Three Case Studies Implementing SEAD

Game Design

The civic learning gaming application includes three modules—word scramble, trivia, and true or false— with embedded assessments selected for their universal familiarity, ease of adoption, and pedagogic viability.

Game Categories

Arts & Humanities


Science & Technology


Justice & Civil Rights


Global Affairs


Public Service

Science & Technology