Friday, August 9 • 11:00am - 11:50am
Learning with Visual Representations in an Educational Video Game

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Digital learning games can engage students in authentic STEM practices, including the use of visual representations. Prior research shows that visual representations can help students learn, as long as they have prerequisite representational competencies to understand how they show information and how to use them for problem solving. However, prior research has not addressed these questions within games.
This presentation focuses on two initial studies on the intersection of games-based learning and visual representations. The first study was a case study of a high-performing student playing an astronomy game used as an assignment in an introductory astronomy course. We investigated whether he had the representational competencies necessary to make sense of how astronomers use visuals to solve disciplinary problems. Even though the student showed high performance in the course, he had difficulties making sense of the visual representations in the game. Further, he did not understand that the visuals in the game were realistic astronomy tools.
The second study was an experiment with 45 students playing the same game as part of a cross-disciplinary capstone assignment in a special topics course in chemistry. The study included two conditions – the game with prompts to support representational competencies and the game with no prompts. Surprisingly, results showed no differences across conditions on measures of representational competencies. Further, results showed no differences in learning outcomes for low performing students but showed that the prompts depressed learning for high performing students. The presentation addresses these results and plans for future studies to gain further insights into these phenomena.

avatar for Tiffany Herder

Tiffany Herder

Graduate Researcher, Gear Learning / UW Madison

Friday August 9, 2019 11:00am - 11:50am
Landmark 3rd Floor

Attendees (15)