Current Research: Boone's Meadow
The Boone’s Meadow project builds on prior funding from the Spencer Foundation and the National Academy of Education to explore how elements of videogame design can support student mathematical problem solving. This game is based on a project-based learning scenario from The Adventures of Jasper Woodbury, developed by the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt in the 1990s. The current project, funded by the National Science Foundation (DRL #1252380), explores how feedback that is embedded in the game influences students’ learning, mathematical engagement, and enjoyment.
If you are interested in learning more about the game, either for use in your own classroom, or as a topic of additional research, drop us a line!
Explore Boone’s Meadow
The game begins when students are told that an endangered eagle has been shot in Boone’s Meadow—a place that cannot be reached by car and takes 6 hours to hike by foot. In exploring the problem and resources, they meet three characters who own different ultralight flying machines, which can fly at different maximum speeds, operate with different fuel efficiencies, hold different amounts of gas, and can carry different weights. Students must decide which route to take, which plane to fly, the length and time of the journey, how much gasoline will be required (and where to stop to get it), who will pilot the plane, and whether any additional cargo is necessary (or feasible) given the weight limit of the small aircraft. The problem that students are solving is rich and complex, in that they need to determine what information is relevant and necessary to solve the problem, and, once they have determined this, they must use the information in order to make a final determination of which plan is best and how long the trip would take. The specific mathematical content that students engage in the game includes multiplication, division, ratio, and rate.
Findings and Publications
As of Spring 2017, we worked with 14 teachers who taught 36 different classes. These classes varied in size from 12-35 students, and included a private parochial school, two different public academic magnet schools, and four “regular” public middle schools. Across the three years, over 600 students have played the game. Our analyses have considered the ways that in-game feedback influences students’ mathematical engagement (Gresalfi & Barnes, 2015), the different ways that teachers support and transform the game through their own practice (Bell & Gresalfi, 2017a,b), and how particular design decisions influences students’ mathematical understanding (Gresalfi, Nichols, & Wisittanawat, 2016).
My prior research has focused on the design of games to support student learning of mathematics, systems thinking, science, and language arts. These projects share a commitment to creating spaces for students to explore ideas, and to consider how what you know influences what are you are able to do in the world. The majority of this work has been undertaken in the context of a game platform developed by Dr. Sasha Barab, called Quest Atlantis.
Gresalfi, M.S. (2015) Designing to Support Critical Engagement with Statistics. ZDM - The International Journal on Mathematics Education 47:933–946.
Gresalfi, M.S., Barnes, J., & Cross, D. (2012). When does an opportunity become an opportunity? Unpacking classroom practice through the lens of ecological psychology. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 80, 249-267.
Barab, S. A., Pettyjohn, P., Gresalfi, M., Volk, C., & Solomou, M. (2012). Game-based curriculum and transformational play: Designing to meaningfully position person, content, and context. Computers & Education, 50, 518-533.
Gresalfi, M.S., & Barab, S.A. (2011). Learning for a reason: Supporting forms of engagement by designing tasks and orchestrating environments. Theory into Practice, 50, 300-310.
Barab, S.A., Gresalfi, M.S., & Ingram-Goble, A. (2010). Transformational Play: Using Games to Position Person, Content, and Context. Educational Researcher.
Barab, S.A., Gresalfi, M.S., Dodge, T., & Ingram-Goble, A. (2010). Narratizing Disciplines and Disciplinizing Narratives: Games as 21st Century Curriculum. Journal for Gaming and Computer Mediated Simulations, 2, 1. 17-30.
Barab, S.A. Gresalfi, M.S. & Arici, A. (2009). Transformational Play: Why educators should care about games. Educational Leadership, 67,1,76-80.
Barab, S.A., Gresalfi, M.S., Ingram-Goble, A., Jameson, E., Hickey, D., Akram, S., & Kizer, S. (2009). Transformational Play and Virtual Worlds: Worked Examples from The Quest Atlantis Project. International Journal of Learning and Media, 1,2.
Gresalfi, M.S., Barab, S., Siyahhan, S., Christensen, T. (2009). Virtual worlds, conceptual understanding, and me: Designing for Critical engagement. On the Horizon, 17,1, 21-34.
Prior Funded Projects
Salen, K., Spang, E., Gresalfi, M., & Norton, D. ($400,000; December 2011-November 2013). Games and Assessment: Creating Games to Assess Systems Thinking. MacArthur Foundation.
Barab, S.A., & Gresalfi, M.S. ($2,366,734; November 2010-October 2013). Pedagogy for the 21st Century: Scaling Out a Game-Based Curriculum. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gresalfi, M.S. ($55,000; September 2009-December 2011). Designing for Consequential Engagement: The Role of "Push-Back“ on Student Thinking. Postdoctoral Fellowship, Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education.
Barab, S., & Gresalfi, M.S., ($1,839,000; January 2008-December, 2010). Scaling out virtual worlds: Growing a 21st century curriculum. MacArthur Foundation.