Author: Comings, John
Year: 2018
Full Citation: Comings, J. (2018). Assessing the impact of literacy learning games for Syrian refugee children: An executive overview of Antura and the Letters and Feed the Monster impact evaluations. Washington, DC: World Vision and Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development. Retrieved from
Target Population(s): ,
Overview: This report provides an executive overview of the impact evaluations of two winning literacy apps, Antura and the Letters and Feed the Monster, in the EduApp4Syria competition. The impact evaluations had three goals:
  1. Assess the impact of each game on players’ literacy skills;
  2. Assess the impact of each game on players’ psychosocial wellbeing;
  3. Assess each game’s ease of use and ability to engage children.
More information about these games and their full impact evaluation reports can be found at The games in their updated versions can be downloaded by searching for “Edu-App4Syria” on Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Methodology: The evaluation employed a longitudinal, quasi-experimental design that compared growth in literacy and psychosocial wellbeing outcomes for children using the apps to children who did not use the app. All the children had little or no schooling and lived in the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. The evaluation used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Literacy was assessed using the Letter Sound, Syllable Reading, Invented Word Reading, and Oral Reading Fluency subtests of the Early Grade Reading assessment (EGRA) instrument developed in Arabic by the Research Triangle Institute.
Findings: The findings for the impact on the first two research goals provide weak but encouraging evidence that smartphone learning games can build basic Arabic literacy skills and improve the psychosocial wellbeing of Syrian refugee children.
  • The positive findings for both literacy and psychosocial wellbeing serves as a proof of concept for using smartphone apps for teaching literacy to refugee children and other children who do not have access to effective instruction.
  • Findings for the third goal show that older children scored higher on the oral reading fluency subtest, but younger children showed higher rates of change on all subtests. Boys made larger gains on all subtests except for oral reading fluency, while girls scored the same with Antura and the Letters and higher with Feed the Monster.
  • In addition, parents supported use of the apps, saying their children were learning and that playing the apps made their children happy. Children reported that they enjoyed playing the games and that the games made them happy.

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