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Strategies for Integrating Design Process
into Computer-Based Inquiry Activities

This page is an extension of Developing Instruction for Teaching Design Process, especially its section about Goals for Activities.


I.O.U. — Currently this page is a very incomplete rough-draft outline of ideas that might be worth developing more fully.


Recognizing the Many Benefits for Students:  design interest-driven education for increased motivation;  {there is research on its effectiveness for a variety of ideas-and-skills & grade levels);  design so it's personally customized, or (more realistically?) so there are options that will appeal to a wide range of students, hopefully "something for everyone."

• a humble recognition:  I'm not expert (or even competent) in most areas of game development, so I'll need collaborative help.  But I tend to be a quick learner, especially when (as in this area) I have motivation & enthusiasm, which will make the collaborating easier.


• Probably the quickest-and-easiest strategy, early in a process of designing instruction, is to begin with already-developed games for inquiry and somehow integrate principles & activities of Design Process into it.

• Maybe a useful kind of "already-developed game" will be role-playing games (RPGs) in which a student plays the role of a designer (in a game for design-inquiry) or scientist (doing science-inquiry).    { I'm using "game" with a broad definition, to include a wide range of computer-based activities.  And many strategies for designing instruction also can be used for hands-on activities that don't use a computer. }

• For design-inquiry the range of possible RPGs is wide, since we use design-thinking for almost everything we do when designing activities, products, theories, and (in the widest category) strategies.  Two useful types of objectives will be strategies (many strategy-using RPGs already have been developed, and some could be adapted for design-oriented instruction) and products (for example, the objective could be a car, with students choosing goals for characteristics & contraints of various types, and their multiple goal-criteria will force them to think about tradeoffs later when they make decisions based on observation-data generated by the computer for mental & physical experiments).

• For science-inquiry when the objective is an explanation based on theories/models, some RPGs exist now, and more will be developed in the future.  An RPG can be based on history of science, current scientific work, or just concepts we want students to learn.  Probably most game-activities will be framed as mystery stories, as in a case study with question-investigating plus metacognitive analysis of what has been done by others and/or is being done by students during the game.  Other possibilities are activities in which students Predict-Observe-Explain (in a simple RPG) using the essence of scientific reasoning;  and theory/model-based simulations like those developed by PhET and others.

In the future I'll explore what is now available (this includes many options) to search for possibilities with design-inquiry and science-inquiry — for themes to serve as a basis for designing variations-on-a-theme, or to use approximately as-is but with supplemental modifications — that might be useful for...


• Integrating Design Process into a Game-Activity:  One option is asking students to reflect on their game-playing experience (asking “what did I do? how? and why? what did it let me accomplish?”) and discover principles of Design Process.  The game can ask students to make decisions about “what to do next” using a Coordination Strategy.  Their decisions can be activated (so they can do “what they want to do next”) either by clicking on a mode-name in a spatially organized list of modes for thinking-and-action or by clicking part of an image-map made from a diagram for Design Process that is a verbal-and-visual way to logically organize ideas about the process of design.  The game can be configured to encourage (or force) a shifting of students from one of these clicking-options to the other at some point, or let teachers control these options and their timings, or just make both available and let students choose.  These two options, and their functional relationships, would be more meaningful after students have experience with...

• one or more “games” we have developed to show students — with a more explicit focus on the process of design, and in more detail — how they can use a creative-and-critical process of design, and thus principles of Design Process, to solve problems (in design-inquiry) and answer questions (in science-inquiry).


MORE - As explained in the page-intro, development of this page is just beginning, so (IOU) more will be here later, although to make significant progress will require collaboration with others.