Interactive learning activities, where multiple participants collaboratively generate new ideas, have been shown to produce the highest learning gains. However, interactive learning activities are often the most difficult for instructors to implement. My research explores how technology can impact how students interact during class, and how those interactions affect student learning.
Digital In-Class Peer Feedback
This project explores ways to improve peer feedback on student presentations. Many college courses require students to give in-class presentations. This raises a number of challenges. Students who watch the presentation are typically not participating actively. Professors can be overwhelmed trying to provide feedback while also managing the class. The presenting students would benefit from receiving more feedback than the professor can provide. This project introduces PeerPresents, an in-class peer feedback system we developed to improve the feedback process for in-class presentations.
Streaming Educational Games
What if students can learn just as much by watching someone else play an educational game as they would by playing the game themselves? This project investigates possibilities for streaming educational games on Twitch.tv, including how much students learn by watching, what the streamer should or shouldn’t do to encourage learning, and how chat interactions affect students watching the game.
How Role-Play Games Can Inform Interactive Learning Systems
Interactive learning techniques such as role-play are valuable to learners, but often difficult for instructors to implement. While technology can successfully support interactive learning, few systems have been designed or studied that support classroom role-play specifically. This research explores how role-play games (RPGs) can inform the design of systems to support role-play for interactive learning. Early findings reveal how role-player’s expertise – both in supporting group cohesion and in preserving the spirit of the experience – can offer instructors and system designers new insights on using role-play to support interactive learning in the classroom.
Using Interactive Metaphorical Media to Change Beliefs
If you look to popular media, the aftermath of a natural disaster leaves behind helpless victims, selfish looters, and violent thugs. This narrative is pervasive in fiction, with the protagonists often cast as the only heroes with meaningful agency. However, it is equally pervasive in nonfiction media, such as news coverage of natural disasters. These beliefs, known as “disaster myths,” are not accurate. In fact, survivors typically care for one another, share resources, and build community in the aftermath of disaster. Why does the narrative of life after disaster matter? Because it affects policy. This work presents a case study of Pause, a game designed to change player beliefs about how people behave in the wake of a natural disaster, using metaphor as the key belief change strategy.
Interactive Learning Techniques for Introductory Computer Science Courses
The traditional introductory computer science course generally consists of lectures filled with pre-coded examples. However, “live-coding”, the process of solving code examples that begins with a blank text file and requires students to produce code during lecture as a group discussion,gives students an interactive educational experience with little additional effort for the professor. Building on the flipped classroom movement, live-coding provides students with practice generating code, testing code, understanding and solving errors, and finding optimal code solutions during class. This work presents an initial evaluation of live-coding in a college level introductory computer science course.
Effective Practices in Game Tutorial Systems
Efficient game tutorial systems are an essential part of educational games, providing targeted instruction to increase the player’s proficiency in game mechanics while allowing more time for learning and game play. This work synthesized a system of effective practices for the design of educational game tutorials, and demonstrated their efficacy in a new tutorial system for an educational puzzle game called BeadLoom Game (BLG). When compared with a classroom introduction to the same material, students using the new tutorial system completed the tutorials in 75% less time while producing higher learning gains and higher levels of achievement. The practices devised and tested in our game tutorial system can be used to make educational games more scalable and effective.