CAREER: Alternative Routes to Technology and Science (ARTS)

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

This study investigates whether and how computer games based on STEM professions can help K-12 students develop interest in and understanding of STEM topics, courses, issues, and ways of thinking.

Setting: 

Our studies are primarily in after school and summer programs with academic enrichment components. We have worked both in conjunction with schools and with independent organizations.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is cross-sectional, and is designed to generate evidence that is descriptive using design research and ethnography, associative/correlational using quasi-experimental methods, and causal through experimental and quasi-experimental methods as well as statistical modeling. This project includes an intervention, game play.

This project collects original data using diaries/ journals/ records kept by study subjects, assessments of learning/ achievement tests, observation (personal observation, videography, and web logs), and survey research including online self-completion questionnaires, face-to-face structured Interviewer-administered questionnaires, and semi-structured/ informal interviews (both face-to-face, and telephone). We are collaborating with a group of statisticians to perform reliability and sensitivity analysis of our data and analytic methods.

We use pre/post/follow-up instruments before and after game play, which are coded and analyzed using ANOVA. We also collect data during game play, which is coded and analyzed using epistemic network analysis (ENA), a variant of social network analysis that quantifies learning by individuals during game play. We collect ethnographic data from observations of professional practice which are also analyzed using ENA.

Findings: 

We are still in the process of data analysis and preparation of manuscripts for publication. However, our research to date generally has provided evidence that computer games based on professional practices can increase players’ understanding of and interest in STEM topics, subjects, and concepts; that the concept of an epistemic frame is a useful construct for describing the state of players’ understanding and interest; and that epistemic network analysis is a useful tool for analyzing the development of epistemic frames. We have also developed a suite of tools and processes for developing and analyzing such games, including a technological infrastructure for creating professional practice simulations, algorithms for data analysis using epistemic network analysis, and processes by which extant professional practices can be re-represented in game form.

Publications & Presentations: 

Shaffer, DW (2007). How Computer Games Help Children Learn. New York: Palgrave.

Shaffer, DW, Hatfield, D, Svarovsky, GN, Nash, P, Nulty, A, Bagley, E, Franke, K, Rupp, AA, Mislevy, R (in press). Epistemic Network Analysis: A prototype for 21st Century assessment of learning. The International Journal of Learning and Media. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/ENAmay08.pdf

Bagley, E.S., & Shaffer, D.W. (2009). When people get in the way: Promoting civic thinking through epistemic game play. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations. 1(1), 36-52. http://epistemicgames.org/eg/wp-content/uploads/ijgcms-bagley-shaffer.pdf

Shaffer, DW (2007). How Computer Games Can Help Children Learn. Principal Magazine. [in press] http://www.naesp.org/ContentLoad.do?contentId=288

Shaffer, D. W. (2008). University of Play. In Press, OECD. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/university of play.pdf

Shaffer, D. W. (2008). Learning in the digital age. Wisconsin People and Ideas, 54(2), 51-55. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Wisconsin People and Ideas.pdf

Shaffer, D. W. (2008). Education in the digital age. Digital Kompetanse, 1(3), 37-50. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Shaffer_Digital Kompetanse 1-2008.pdf

Nulty, A., & Shaffer, D. W. (2008). Digital Zoo: The effects of mentoring on young engineers. Paper to be presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Utrecht, Netherlands. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Hatfield_Shaffer_ICLS_08.pdf

Nash, P., & Shaffer, D. W. (2008). Player-mentor interactions in an epistemic game: A preliminary analysis. Paper to be presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Utrecht, Netherlands. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Nash_Shaffer_ICLS_08.pdf

Bagley, E. S., & Shaffer, D. W. (2008). “They listen to stakeholders”: Promoting civic thinking through epistemic game play. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Utrecht, Netherlands. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Bagley_Shaffer_ICLS_08.pdf

Hatfield, D., & Shaffer, D. W. (2008). Reflection in professional play. Paper to be presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Utrecht, Netherlands. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Hatfield_Shaffer_ICLS_08.pdf

Shaffer, D.W. (2007). Juegos Epistémicos para mejorar las habilidades y valores profesionales. Revista Enlaces. Nro. 4. http://portal.enlaces.cl/?t=54&i=2&cc=443&tm=2

Shaffer, D. W., (in press) Epistemic games to improve professional skills and values. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/OECD.pdf

Shaffer, D. W. (in press). Education in the digital age. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/future_of_learning_11.pdf

Shaffer, D. W. (in press). Wag the Kennel: Games, Frames, and the Problem of Assessment. In R. Fertig (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/wagthekennelchapter.pdf

Shaffer, D. W. (2007). In praise of epistemology. In Brett E. Shelton and David A. Wiley (Eds.), The design and use of simulation computer games in education (pp. 7-27). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Epistemology-Shaffer-GamesinEducatio...

Shaffer, D.W. & Gee, JP (2007). Epistemic Games as Education for Innovation. In J.D.M. Underwood and J. Dockrell (Eds.), Learning through digital technologies (pp. 71-82). Leicester, UK: British Journal of Educational Psychology. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Ep-games-innovation-Shaffer-Gee-BPS-...

Shaffer, D.W. & National Center for Technology Innovation (2007). Epistemic Games as Career Preparatory Experiences for Students with Disabilities. Journal of Special Education Technology, 22(3), 57-69. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/JSET_David_Shaffer.pdf

Svarovsky, G. N., & Shaffer, D. W. (2007). SodaConstructing knowledge through exploratoids. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 44:1, 133-153. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/svarovsky_shaffer_jrst_sodaconstruct...

Svarovsky, G. N., & Shaffer, D. W. (2006). Design meetings and design notebooks as tools for reflection in the engineering design course. Paper presented at the Paper presented at the 36th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, San Diego, CA. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/FIE_ethno_revision_v3.pdf

Svarovsky, G. N., & Shaffer, D. W. (2006). SodaConstructing an understanding of physics: Technology-based engineering activities for middle school students. Paper presented at the Paper presented at the 36th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, San Diego, CA. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/FIE_sodaconstructor_final.pdf

Shaffer, D. W. (2006, September). Beyond “He Said, She Said”: Games For Learning Move Beyond The Traditional Dichotomy of Weak V Strong Instructional Guidance, ADL Newsletter for Educators and Educational Researchers (Vol. September). http://www.ymlp.com/pubarchive_show_message_iframe.php?adlnews+7#Beyond

Shaffer, D. W. (2006). Epistemic frames for epistemic games. Computers and Education. 46(3), 223-234. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/shaffer_cae_2005.pdf

Hatfield, D., & Shaffer, D. W. (2006). Press play: designing an epistemic game engine for journalism. Paper presented at the Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Bloomington, IN. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/hatfield_shaffer_icls_2006.pdf

Shaffer, D. W., & Squire, K. D. (2006). The Pasteurization of Education. In S. Y. Tettegah & R. C. Hunter (Eds.), Technology and Education: Issues in Administration, Policy, and Application in K12 Schools (Vol. 8, pp. 43-55). London: Elsevier. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/pasteurization_2006.pdf

Svarovsky, G. N., & Shaffer, D. W. (2006). Berta’s Tower: Developing conceptual physics understanding one exploratoid at a time. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Bloomington, IN. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/svarovsky_shaffer_icls_paper_2006.pdf

Svarovsky, G. N., & Shaffer, D. W. (2006). Engineering girls gone wild: Developing an engineering identity in Digital Zoo. Poster at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Bloomington, IN. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/svarovsky_shaffer_icls_poster_2006.pdf

Shaffer, D. W., Squire, K. D., Halverson, R., & Gee, J. P. (2005). Video Games and the Future of Learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(2), 104-111. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/videogamesfuturelearning_pdk_2005.pdf

Shaffer, D. W., & *Clinton, K. A. (2005). Why all CSL is CL: Distributed mind and the future of computer supported collaborative learning. Under review by International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/allCSLisCLatCSCL05.pdf

Beckett, K. L., & Shaffer, D. W. (2005). Augmented by reality: The pedagogical praxis of urban planning as a pathway to ecological thinking. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 33(1), 31-52. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/beckett_shaffer_2005.pdf

Shaffer, D. W. (2005). Epistemic Games. Innovate, 1(6). Reprinted in Computers and Education 46(2006), 223-234. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/Epistemic_Games_Innovate.pdf

Shaffer, D. (2005). Multisubculturalism: Computers and the end of progressive education (WCER Working Paper No. 2005-5). Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research. http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/publications/workingPapers/Working_Paper_No_200...

Shaffer, D. W. (2005). Epistemography and the Participant Structures of a Professional Practicum: A story behind the story of Journalism 828 (WCER Working Paper No. 2005-8): University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research. http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/publications/workingPapers/Working_Paper_No_200...

Shaffer, D. W., & Gee, J. P. (2005). Before every child is left behind: How epistemic games can solve the coming crisis in education (WCER Working Paper No. 2005-7): University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research. http://www.wcer.wisc.edu/publications/workingPapers/Working_Paper_No_200...

Shaffer, D. W. (2004). Pedagogical praxis: The professions as models for post-industrial education. Teachers College Record, 106(7), 1401-1421. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/TCRpedprax.pdf

Shaffer, D. W., & Serlin, R. (2004). What good are statistics that don’t generalize? Educational Researcher, 33(9), 14-25. http://aera.net/uploadedFiles/Journals_and_Publications/Journals/

Beckett, K. L., & Shaffer, D. W. (2004). We built this city: Developing students’ understanding of ecology through the professional practice of urban planning. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Santa Monica, CA. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/becketticls04.pdf

Shaffer, D. W. (2004). Epistemic frames and islands of expertise: Learning from infusion experiences. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Santa Monica, CA. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/epistemicframesicls04.pdf

Svarovsky, G. N., & Shaffer, D. W. (2004). Berta’s Tower: Understanding physics through virtual engineering. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), Santa Monica, CA. http://epistemicgames.org/cv/papers/svarovskyicls04.pdf

Shaffer, D. W., & Serlin, R. (2004). Intra sample statistical analysis (WCER Working Paper No. 2005-2). Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Center for Educational Research http://aera.net/uploadedFiles/Journals_and_Publications/

Svarovsky, G., and Shaffer, D.W. 2003. Berta’s Tower: An expert-novice study investigating ideas in the domain of physics and the practice of engineering. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, April 2003, Chicago, IL. http://www.epistemicgames.org/eop/uploads/GinaS/AERA2003.pdf">http://www...

Other Products: 

STEM learning games; assessment instruments