Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations

Committee on Science Learning: Computer Games, Simulations, and Education

Margaret A. Honey and Margaret L. Hilton, Editors

Board on Science Education

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
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Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations Committee on Science Learning: Computer Games, Simulations, and Education Margaret A. Honey and Margaret L. Hilton, Editors Board on Science Education Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contract No. DRL-0836206 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation and Contract No. 2008- 2457 between the National Academy of Sciences and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Learning science : computer games, simulations, and education / Committee on Science Learning ; Margaret A. Honey and Margaret Hilton, editors. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-309-18523-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-309-18524-0 (pdf : alk. paper) 1. Science—Study and teaching (Elementary) 2. Science—Study and teaching (Secondary) I. Honey, Margaret. II. Hilton, Margaret. III. National Research Council. Committee on Science Learning. LB1585.L357 2011 372.35′044—dc22 2011004594 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2011 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2011). Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations. Committee on Science Learning: Computer Games, Simulations, and Education, Margaret A. Honey and Margaret L. Hilton, Eds. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engi- neers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Insti- tute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sci- ences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE LEARNING: COMPUTER GAMES, SIMULATIONS, AND EDUCATION MARGARET A. HONEY (Chair), New York Hall of Science, Queens WILLIAM B. BONVILLIAN, Washington, DC, Office, Massachusetts Institute of Technology JANIS CANNON-BOWERS, Institute for Simulation and Training, University of Central Florida ERIC KLOPFER, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology JAMES W. PELLEGRINO, Learning Sciences Research Institute, University of Illinois, Chicago RAY PEREZ, Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Virginia NICHOLE PINKARD, College of Computing and Digital Media, DePaul University DANIEL SCHWARTZ, School of Education, Stanford University CONSTANCE STEINKUEHLER, School of Education, University of Wisconsin, Madison CARL E. WIEMAN, Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, University of British Columbia (until March 2010) MARTIN STORKSDIECK, Study Director (since June 2010) J. REID SCHWEBACH, Study Director (until May 2010) MARGARET L. HILTON, Senior Program Officer REBECCA KRONE, Program Associate PATRICIA HARVEY, Senior Program Assistant (until July 2009) WUNIKA MUKAN, Program Assistant (until December 2009) 

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BOARD ON SCIENCE EDUCATION 2009 HELEN R. QUINN (Chair), Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University PHILIP BELL, Learning Sciences, University of Washington WILLIAM B. BONVILLIAN, Washington, DC, Office, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ADAM GAMORAN, Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison JERRY P. GOLLUB, Natural Sciences and Physics Departments, Haverford College MARGARET A. HONEY, New York Hall of Science, Queens JANET HUSTLER, Partnership for Student Success in Science (PS3), Synopsys, Inc., Mountain View, California FRANK KEIL, Morse College, Yale University BRETT D. MOULDING, Utah Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning, Ogden CARLO PARRAVANO, Merck Institute for Science Education, Rahway, New Jersey SUSAN R. SINGER, Department of Biology, Carleton College JAMES P. SPILLANE, Department of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University CARL E. WIEMAN, Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, University of British Columbia WILLIAM B. WOOD, Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder MARTIN STORKSDIECK, Director HEIDI A. SCHWEINGRUBER, Deputy Director MICHAEL A. FEDER, Senior Program Officer MARGARET L. HILTON, Senior Program Officer THOMAS E. KELLER, Senior Program Officer NATALIE NIELSEN, Senior Program Officer J. REID SCHWEBACH, Program Officer (until May 2010) REBECCA KRONE, Program Associate KELLY DUNCAN, Senior Program Assistant PATRICIA HARVEY, Senior Program Assistant (until July 2009) WUNIKA MUKAN, Program Assistant (until December 2009) i

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Acknowledgments The committee and staff thank the many individuals and organizations who assisted us in our work and without whom this study could not have been completed. First, we acknowledge the generous support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. We are particularly grateful to Marshall (Mike) S. Smith, former program director for education at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, who identified the need for such a study and made the initial request. We also thank John C. Cherniavsky, senior advisor for research in the NSF Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, for his support of the study. Individually and collectively, committee members benefited from dis- cussions that grew out of the papers and presentations from the October 2009 workshop. We are grateful to each of the presenters, many of whom also wrote papers on different aspects of simulations, games, and science learning. They include Eva Baker, University of California, Los Angeles; Sasha Barab, Indiana University; Daphne Bavelier, University of Rochester; John Behrens, Cisco Networking Academy; Alex Chisolm, Learning Games Network; Douglas Clark, Vanderbilt University; Katherine Culp, Education Development Center; Ton de Jong, University of Twente, The Netherlands; Christopher Dede, Harvard University; Daniel Edelson, National Geographic Society; Dexter Fletcher, Institute for Defense Analyses; Alan Gershenfeld, E-Line Ventures; Robert Goldstone, Indiana University; Richard Halverson, University of Wisconsin, Madison; John Hight, Sony Computer Entertainment of America; Paul Horwitz, The Concord Consortium; Mizuko Ito, University of California, Irvine; Yasmin B. Kafai, University of Pennsylvania; Diane J. Ketelhut, Temple University; Merrilea J. Mayo, Kauffman Foundation; Scot Osterweil, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jan L. Plass, New York University; Edys Quellmalz, WestEd; Steven Schneider, WestEd; Valerie J. ii

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iii Acknowledgments Shute, Florida State University; Nancy B. Songer, University of Michigan; Kurt D. Squire, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Reed Stevens, Northwestern University; Ronald H. Stevens, University of California, Los Angeles; Michael J. Timms, WestEd; Ellen A. Wartella, University of California, Riverside; and Susan Zelman, Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Many individuals at the National Research Council (NRC) assisted the committee. Center for Education director Patricia Morison, Board on Sci- ence Education deputy director Heidi Schweingruber, and Board on Science Education director Martin Storksdieck offered valuable suggestions at our committee meetings, as well as providing helpful comments on drafts of the report. Reid Schwebach, study director until May 2010, worked closely with the committee to design and carry out the workshop, commission valuable papers and presentations, and write initial drafts of the report. Senior program officer Margaret Hilton assisted the committee with subsequent drafts. We thank Kirsten Sampson Snyder, who shepherded the report through the NRC review process; Christine McShane, who edited the draft report; and Yvonne Wise for processing the report through final production. We are grateful to Patricia Harvey, who arranged logistics for the first committee meeting; Wunika Mukan for her able assistance in arranging the workshop and final two committee meetings; and Rebecca Krone for her assistance with editing and preparing the manuscript for review and final publication. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with pro- cedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Christopher Dede, Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Educa- tion; Chad Dorsey, president, The Concord Consortium, Concord, MA; Pamela R. Jeffries, associate dean for academic affairs, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing; Ken Koedinger, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University; Marcia C. Linn, Education in Mathematics, Science, and Technology, University of California, Berkeley; William L. McGill, Informa- tion Sciences and Technology, Pennsylvania State University; Catherine Milne, Department of Teaching and Learning, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University; Jan L. Plass, Educational Communication and Technology, Steinhardt School, New York University; Brooke M. Whiteford, Technology Assisted Learning Division, RTI International; Diego Zapata-Rivera, Research and Development, Educational

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Acknowledgments ix Testing Service; and Michael J. Zyda, GamePipe Laboratory, Department of Computer Science, University of Southern California. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive com- ments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. Adam Gamoran, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Stephen Fienberg, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University, oversaw the review of this report. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author and the institution. Finally, we thank our colleagues on the committee for their enthusiasm, hard work, and collaborative spirit in writing this report. Margaret A. Honey, Chair Martin Storksdieck, Study Director Committee on Science Learning: Computer Games, Simulations, and Education

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Contents Executive Summary 1 1 Introduction 5 2 Learning with Simulations and Games 25 3 Simulations and Games in the Classroom 57 4 Simulations and Games in Informal Learning Contexts 69 5 The Role of Simulations and Games in Science Assessment 87 6 Bringing Simulations and Games to Scale 105 7 Research Agenda for Simulations and Games 119 References and Bibliography 129 Appendixes A Commissioned Papers 149 B Workshop Agenda 151 C Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 157 xi

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