Scientific Habits of Mind in Virtual Worlds

Abstract

In today’s increasingly “flat” world of globalization (Friedman 2005), the need for a scientifically literate citizenry has grown more urgent. Yet, by some measures, we have done a poor job at fostering scientific habits of mind in schools. Recent research on informal games-based learning indicates that such technologies and the communities they evoke may be one viable alternative—not as a substitute for teachers and classrooms, but as an alternative to textbooks and science labs. This paper presents empirical evidence about the potential of games for fostering scientific habits of mind. In particular, we examine the scientific habits of mind and dispositions that characterize online discussion forums of the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft. Eighty-six percent of the forum discussions were posts engaged in “social knowledge construction” rather than social banter. Over half of the posts evidenced systems based reasoning, one in ten evidenced model-based reasoning, and 65% displayed an evaluative epistemology in which knowledge is treated as an open-ended process of evaluation and argument.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

References

  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993) Benchmarks for science literacy. Oxford University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  2. Barab S, Arcici A, Jackson C (2005) Eat your vegetables and do your homework: a design-based investigation of enjoyment and meaning in learning. Educ Technol 45(1):15–21

    Google Scholar 

  3. Barab SA, Sadler T, Heiselt C, Hickey D, Zuiker S (2007) Relating narrative, inquiry, and inscriptions: a framework for socio-scientific inquiry. J Sci Educ Technol 16(1):59–82. doi:10.1007/s10956-006-9033-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Basic (n.d.) Scaling model. Retrieved November 1, 2007 from http://geocities.com/karlthepagan/wow/damage_scale.htm

  5. Chi MTH (1997) Quantifying qualitative analyses of verbal data: a practical guide. J Learn Sci 6(3):271–315. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls0603_1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chinn CA, Malhotra B (2002) Epistemologically authentic inquiry in schools: a theoretical framework for evaluating inquiry tasks. Sci Educ 86(2):175–218. doi:10.1002/sce.10001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Dewey J (1897) My pedagogic creed. Sch J 14(3):77–80

    Google Scholar 

  8. Dewey J (1910) Science as subject matter and as method. Science 31(787):121–127. doi:10.1126/science.31.787.121

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Elsner A (2005) Is US becoming hostile to science? CNN.com. Retrieved October 31, 2005 from http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/10/28/science.debate.reut

  10. Friedman TL (2005) The world is flat. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York

    Google Scholar 

  11. Gee JP (2003) What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Palgrave, New York

    Google Scholar 

  12. Hayes E Games I Learning through game design: a review of current software & research. Games Cult (in press)

  13. Jenkins H III (1992) Textual poachers: television fans & participatory culture. Routledge, New York

    Google Scholar 

  14. Ketelhut DJ (2007) The impact of student self-efficacy on scientific inquiry skills: an exploratory investigation in River City, a multi-user virtual environment. J Sci Educ Technol 16(1):99–111. doi:10.1007/s10956-006-9038-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Ketelhut DJ, Dede C, Clarke J, Nelson B, Bowman C (2007) Studying situated learning in a multi-user virtual environment. In: Baker E, Dickieson J, Wulfeck W, O’Neil H (eds), Assessment of problem solving using simulations. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ

    Google Scholar 

  16. Kuhn D (1992) Thinking as argument. Harv Educ Rev 62(2):155–178

    Google Scholar 

  17. Lave J (1988) Cognition in practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK

    Google Scholar 

  18. Lave J, Wenger E (1991) Situated learning. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  19. Levy P (1999) Collective intelligence. (Robert Bononno, trans.). Perseus Books, Cambridge MA

    Google Scholar 

  20. Mayer RE (1992) Thinking, problem solving, cognition, 2nd edn. WH Freeman, New York

    Google Scholar 

  21. Miller JD (2004) Public understanding of, and attitudes toward, scientific research: what we know and what we need to know. Public Underst Sci 13(3):273–294. doi:10.1177/0963662504044908

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Nasir NS (2005) Individual cognitive structuring and the sociocultural context: strategy shifts in the game of dominoes. J Learn Sci 14(1):5–34. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls1401_2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. National Research Council (1996) National science education standards. National Academy Press, Washington DC

    Google Scholar 

  24. Nelson B, Ketelhut DJ, Clarke J, Dieterle E, Dede C, Erlandson B (2007) Robust design strategies for scaling educational innovations: The River City MUVE case study. In: Shelton BE, Wiley DA (eds) The design and use of simulation computer games in education. Sense Press, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

  25. Osborne J, Erduren S, Simon S (2004) Enhancing the quality of argumentation in school science. J Res Sci Teach 41(10):994–1020. doi:10.1002/tea.20035

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Poincaré H (2001) Science and hypothesis. In: Gould SJ (ed) The value of science: essential writings of Henri Poincare. The Modern Library, New York, pp 7–180 (Original work published 1905)

    Google Scholar 

  27. Schwab JJ (1962) The teaching of science as enquiry. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA

    Google Scholar 

  28. Shaffer DW, Squire KD, Halverson R, Gee JP (2005) Video games and the future of learning. Phi Delta Kappan 87(2):105–111

    Google Scholar 

  29. Singer SR, Hilton M, Schweingruber HA (2005) America’s lab report: investigations in high school science. The National Academy Press, Washington DC

    Google Scholar 

  30. Solomon A (2004, July 10) The closing of the American book. The New York Times p. A17

  31. Squire K (2003) Replaying history: learning world history through playing Civilization III. Unpublished dissertation. Indiana University, Bloomington IN

  32. Squire KD (2005) Educating the fighter. Horizon 13(2):75–88. doi:10.1108/10748120510608106

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Steinkuehler CA (2004) Learning in massively multiplayer online games. In: Kafai YB, Sandoval WA, Enyedy N, Nixon AS, Herrera F (eds) Proceedings of the sixth ICLS. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp 521–528

    Google Scholar 

  34. Steinkuehler CA (2005) Cognition and learning in massively multiplayer online games: a critical approach. Unpublished dissertation. University of Wisconsin, Madison WI

  35. Steinkuehler C (2006a) The mangle of play. Games Cult 1(3):1–14

    Google Scholar 

  36. Steinkuehler CA (2006b) Massively multiplayer online videogaming as participation in a Discourse. Mind Cult Act 13(1):38–52. doi:10.1207/s15327884mca1301_4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Steinkuehler CA (2006c) Why game (culture) studies now? Games Cult 1(1):1–6

    Google Scholar 

  38. Steinkuehler C, Chmiel M (2006) Fostering scientific habits of mind in the context of online play. In: Barab SA, Hay KE, Songer NB, Hickey DT (eds) Proceedings of the international conference of the learning sciences. Erlbuam, Mahwah NJ, pp 723–729

    Google Scholar 

  39. Steinkuehler C (2007) Massively multiplayer online gaming as a constellation of literacy practices. eLearning 4(3):297–318

    Google Scholar 

  40. Steinkuehler CA (2008a) Cognition and literacy in massively multiplayer online games. In: Coiro J, Knobel M, Lankshear C, Leu D (eds) Handbook of research on new literacies. Erlbaum, Mahwah NJ, pp 611–634

    Google Scholar 

  41. Steinkuehler C (2008b) Massively multiplayer online games as an educational technology: an outline for research. Educ Technol 48(1):10–21

    Google Scholar 

  42. Woodcock BS (2008) An analysis of MMOG subscription growth 23.0. Retrieved April 21, 2008 from http://www.mmogchart.com

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sean Duncan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Steinkuehler, C., Duncan, S. Scientific Habits of Mind in Virtual Worlds. J Sci Educ Technol 17, 530–543 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-008-9120-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Informal science reasoning
  • Virtual worlds
  • Social knowledge construction
  • Game-based learning
  • Informal learning