Dissertation Defense - Travis W. Windleharth
You are cordially invited to join us for the dissertation defense of Travis W. Windleharth to be held on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, via Zoom from 1-3 p.m. PDT.
Title: Mental Models, Meaning, & Games: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Player Meaning Making in a Complex STEM Themed Video Game
Abstract: This research addressed increasing understanding of how players make meaning during play of a complex STEM game, and explores to what extent player mental models of STEM concepts shift as a result of interacting with the game simulation. Game based learning is attracting increased attention and interest as a novel platform for experiential learning, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The affordances of real-time interactive simulations in video games are being leveraged to create complex games for learning, designed with components arranged to reflect models of real-world systems in physical, biological, and social sciences. To build these models, designers use the complex multimedia nature of video games to encode and represent information in an array of game components with key attributes and relationships with one another, to provide a system that players can interact with to achieve game goals. Much work has been done to study outcomes of learning games in terms of post-intervention knowledge assessments, but relatively little has been done to explore the process of player mental model construction and adaptation at the level of specific interactions with components over time. This research aims to expand understanding of how players make meaning during gameplay in the STEM themed game Oxygen not Included, specifically through their interaction with game objects and their relationships. Using the approach of interpretative phenomenological analysis, in conjunction with formal analysis of gameplay and continuous think-aloud interview techniques, this work endeavored to collect rich qualitative data on player meaning-making processes during gameplay to address the following research questions: What major themes of interpretation can be identified for youth meaning making of knowledge structures in games for learning? To what extent do player mental models of STEM phenomena modeled in game shift during the course of play? What are design implications and recommendations for learning game designers based on these results?
- Jin Ha Lee, UW iSchool (Chair)
- Dave Eng, New York University (Member)
- Jessica Luke, UW iSchool (Member)
- Jason Yip, UW iSchool (Member)
- Phillip Thurtle, UW CHID (GSR)
Zoom link: https://washington.zoom.us/j/96342182971