|STRONG (STRuctured-scenario ONline Gaming) Prototype - Proof of Concept: Design of Interactive Learning Environments
Hands-on inquiry learning without domain knowledge merely entertains students and results in their inadequate conceptual understanding. Many resource-deprived students reach schools with limited cognitive skills and are consequently less motivated. Direct instruction to impart domain knowledge in sterile learning environments leaves learners unenlightened and unable to see its real-world relevance.
To cope with this reality, we describe a framework that seeks to immerse all learners in a progression of guided inquiry hands-on activities to facilitate their conceptual STEM understanding, starting with STRONG.
We would like to design a prototype as Proof of Concept for STRONG, to help more middle school students learn and use the concept that "electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass" (p. 127), to build a simple electrical circuit "for a warning device" (p. 165). National Science Education Standards (1999). Our project is also hosted at http://www.GamesToLearn.us to support real-time data collection on student performance using dynamic web pages.
What is STRONG?
Our modular self-contained easily accessible multi-player online games are called STRuctured-scenario ONline Games (cited as STRONG) because they use challenging scenarios to engage middle-school students and provide them control over their learning environment. The interactive learning environments are referred to as games in our design because of their unique features that can direct, facilitate, and assess middle-school students learning of specific domain knowledge and concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
In our class, we have often talked about learning being affected by motivational AND cognitive issues. An expectation failure or cognitive dissonance initiated through a discrepant event could influence learners' motivation. Using developmentally appropriate STEM concepts and standards outlined in the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993), we identify, use, and embed student misconceptions in STRONG to foster a deliberate STOP –> REFLECT –> THINK –> ACT approach to rekindle players' intentionality and inherent preference for goal-oriented actions and launch them into active inquiry learning.
The Knowledge Engineers for STRONG
Besides members from our design team, the knowledge engineers for STRONG include a small focus group of middle and high school students and teachers.