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The role of interest-driven participatory game design: considering design literacy within a technology classroom


Adolescents develop skills and ideas from their interest-driven practices, which shape a type of literacy that may differ from the traditional ideas of literacy. This paper takes a qualitative approach to identify adolescents’ activities through interest-driven participatory design. We interacted with grade 9 students at a Western Canadian school who were designing games in a Career and Technology Studies classroom. We collected data through weekly observations, group presentations, written individual reflections on their own designs, oral and written group peer feedback, and final interviews with group members. Based on literature review and our observations, we drew on a framework focusing on adolescents’ participation in exploring, developing, and creating designs based on their own interest. We advocate for adopting interest-driven participatory game design in technology classroom, to engage learners more in learning and developing necessary skills to thrive in their lives.

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Funding was provided by Partner Research Schools Initiative of the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.

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Correspondence to Farzan Baradaran Rahimi.



Final interview with students (protocol and questions)

Good morning (afternoon). Thank you for coming. The purpose of this interview is to learn about your experience of designing games with your friends and what you learned from it. There are no right or wrong or desirable or undesirable answers. I would like you to feel comfortable with saying what you really think and how you really feel.

If it is okay with you, I will be video and audio-recording our conversation. The purpose of this is so that I can get all the details but at the same time be able to carry on an attentive conversation with you. I assure you that all your comments will remain confidential. I will be compiling a report, which will contain all of your comments using pseudonyms. I would also like to let you know that I am not an expert in this subject, so I might need to slow you down and ask you to explain a bit more when you talk about what you learned in your lessons. Before we start, perhaps it would be helpful if we introduce each other. You can say your pseudonym if you prefer.

I would like to ask you about your experience of game design project. First, I would like you to write down five or more words on the paper provided, which you may use when explaining what you learned by doing this project. Words can be concepts, skills, relationships, or any other things that you imagine. I will give you 1 min.

So, what we will do is that we will start with one person with one word, talk about it, and others who have the same word or a different word but with a similar intention can talk about them. We will discuss what those ideas mean to us and how we learned them. We will continue with another word after that.

Let’s start with the first word from you (refer to one of the students). Tell me about the word, and why you thought about it.

Possible probing questions

Game design literacies and learning:

  • What challenges did you have with the project?

  • How did your game design evolve and why?

  • How did you decide on these mechanics and what research did you have to do to create this design?

  • What are the things that you would like to do more in the future on your own or with your friends based on this project?

Classroom culture:

  • What did you learn about your teachers and your friends? Tell me about specific incidents that you remember

  • How do you feel about this type of learning?

Reflective assessment practices:

  • What kinds of feedback you received and gave and how did it help you and your friends?

  • (Showing artifacts that show game design change) What made you make these changes?

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Baradaran Rahimi, F., Kim, B. The role of interest-driven participatory game design: considering design literacy within a technology classroom. Int J Technol Des Educ 29, 387–404 (2019).

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  • Interest-driven practices
  • Participatory design
  • Technology education
  • Game design