Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 553–566 | Cite as

Using Epistemic Network Analysis to Examine Discourse and Scientific Practice During a Collaborative Game

  • Denise M. BresslerEmail author
  • Alec M. Bodzin
  • Brendan Eagan
  • Sara Tabatabai


According to the National Research Council, the ability to collaboratively solve problems is of the utmost importance in scientific careers, yet students are not exposed to learning experiences that promote such expertise. Recent studies have found that interdependent roles used within collaborative mobile games are an effective way to scaffold collaborative problem solving. School Scene Investigators: The Case of the Mystery Powder, a collaborative mobile game, incorporated interdependent roles in order to foster collaborative problem solving and promote scientific practice. Using epistemic network analysis (ENA), this study examined the conversational discourse of game teams to determine what connections exist between communication responses, language style, and scientific practice. Data included audio transcripts of three teams that played through the game. Transcripts were qualitatively coded for five types of scientific practice aligned to the National Research Council framework for K-12 science education, three types of communication responses (accept/discuss/reject), and an emergent language style (communal). ENA revealed that students developed scientific practices during gameplay. ENA also identified engaged communication responses and communal language style as two types of collaborative discourse used within School Scene Investigators: The Case of the Mystery Powder that fostered key linkages to effective data analysis and interpretation.


Collaborative problem solving Game-based learning Augmented reality Mobile technology Science education Interdependence 



The study utilized the epistemic network analysis (ENA) method which was funded in part by the National Science Foundation (DRL-0918409, DRL-0946372, DRL-1247262, DRL-1418288, DRL-1661036, DRL-1713110, DUE-0919347, DUE-1225885, EEC-1232656, EEC-1340402, REC-0347000), the MacArthur Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The opinions, findings, and conclusions do not reflect the views of the funding agencies, cooperating institutions, or other individuals.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Lehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA
  3. 3.Wisconsin Center for Educational ResearchUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonMadisonUSA

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