Are STEM Games Intended To Be Educative?

Adriana Boffa, Janelle McFeetors, Marc Higgins


Our research aimed to expand perceptions of learning in school science and mathematics as relational and dynamic selves and experiences in the making. We grounded our work in Ellsworth’s (2005) notion of pedagogical pivots, thus recognizing STEM board games as texts that propel learning and learners forward through affective and aesthetic experiences, interaction as relationality, and boundaries as porous and fluid. To animate our theoretical framework, we held participatory review groups and reported on a group of eight pre-service teachers who played Santorini (mathematics) and Evolution: The Beginning (science). The results indicate that participants engaged in substantial moments of becoming across all three pedagogical pivots, which were made apparent in numerous ways through game play and interaction with the game, specifically exemplified through four emergent themes: 1) engrossment and presence both inside and outside of the game; 2) a becoming-play (about the process of play) and a becoming-game (bound by rules, security); 3) a becoming-community (collective learning, reciprocity, relationality); and 4) a becoming-self (as identifies are (re)forming). The data that emerged is a confluence of connections that produce a “becoming-with-ness” of the game itself and are described through participant statements, displayed through bodily reactions and interactions with space (relational or architectural), with the game itself, with other players, and which are shown through field notes, video and audio recordings of game-play observations. Data from the observed “in between” spaces—moments where
learning or thinking might occur—allows for an identification of games as rich “texts” for mathematics and science education.


becoming; board games; pre-service teachers; relational learning; STEM

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