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Social skills program assesses students' social skill level in six key areas


Zoo U is a game-based social skills assessment program funded by a U.S. Department of Education SBIR contract. It assesses the student’s social skill level in six key areas: impulse control, empathy, initiation, communication, cooperation, and emotion regulation.

To begin a teacher or counselor inputs the names of the students being assessed and then launches Zoo U for student gameplay from any computer with internet access (typically in a classroom or a small group counseling setting within the school). In Zoo U, the student navigates social situations with other characters in a virtual school for zookeepers in training. Through menu and behavior choices, as well as “hidden behaviors” such as time spent off-task, the program assesses the student’s social skill level in the six key areas listed above.

Zoo U collects data on the student’s every move and transforms this information into graphical reports that can be accessed by the student’s teacher or counselor. Students can play the game every three months in order for teachers and counselors to track the student’s progress in the six key social skill areas over time.

As of April 2013, the company, 3-C Institute for Social Development, reported that Zoo U has been used in over 200 schools in the U.S. There are currently three pricing plans:

  • Zoo U Classroom (assess up to 30 students in one class) - $49.95/yr
  • Zoo U Counselor (assess up to 45 students in multiple classes) - $59.95/yr
  • Zoo U School (assess up to 500 students throughout the school) - $149.95/yr

The company has published a research article about Zoo U in Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, which showed "significant correlation between in-game social skills assessments and independently obtained standard psychological assessments of the same students and high levels of engagement and likeability for students." The company also has data, to be published in peer-reviewed journals in late 2013, suggesting that Zoo U can help educators identify students who may be prone to bullying.


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3rd grade 3rd grade

4th grade 4th grade


Assessment Assessment

Games Games

Subject Matter

21st Century Skills 21st Century Skills

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