Developing Science Identities through Games: An Analysis of Game Design Features that Support Identity Exploration
Abstract: This paper presents an in-depth examination of three exemplary virtual environments for science learning (Land Science, River City, and EcoMUVE) to identify and conceptualize game features that support student identity exploration. The work showcases findings obtained from Years 1-2 of an NSF CAREER project (DRL#1350707) undertaken to support the study, design, and implementation of games and curricula that enhance science learning and teaching to promote intentional student learning as identity change (Foster, 2014). The examination was guided by Projective Reflection (PR), a theoretical framework that explains and facilitates learning as identity exploration in immersive play-based environments such as games (Foster, 2014). PR characterizes identity exploration as intentional changes in a) knowledge, b) interest and valuing, c) self-organization and self-control, and d) self-perceptions and self-definitions in a given domain The Playing Research Method (Aarseth, 2003; Foster, 2012) informed game data collection and analysis processes. A hybrid process of inductive thematic analysis and deductive coding of game features in the three environments illustrated their capacity to support student growth along PR constructs. Findings reveal both unique and overlapping game features that support identity exploration related to STEM careers, while implications detail the future development and utility of the game feature repository to support researchers, educators, and designers.
Presider: José Martí-Parreño, Universidad Europea de Valencia