Understanding game design activities as literacy practices in a school context: Outline for a theoretical framework

Submitted by: Kristine Kabel
In this paper, we propose to present a theoretical framework for understanding and describing literacy practices in classrooms that have adopted a game design pedagogy. This framework is developed as part of the qualitative strand of the research project Game-Based Learning in the 21st Century (GBL21), a five years large-scale intervention project launched in December 2017. The overall aim is to explore how and to what degree students develop 21st century skills through a game design pedagogy in different school subjects. In this paper, we focus in particular on data from the L1 classroom in lower secondary.

The GBL21 project is based on a mixed methods methodology, and the interventions will be carried out at 20 schools in Denmark and will consist of 4 specially designed game-based units in each of the subjects Danish (as L1), mathematics, and science in both 5th and 7th grade. Games include digital as well as analogue games, and we understand game design pedagogy as relating to the process of designing games, exploring game worlds, and reflecting on game activities in an educational context.

The research question addressed in the qualitative strand is: How to describe and understand the students’ domain-specific literacy practices in relation to idea generation and modelling of game designs? This question is explored with a focused ethnographic methodology (Knoblauch, 2005).

In this paper, we present the current theoretical framework for studying students’ domain-specific literacy practices. The framework is exemplified with data from a recent pilot study in lower secondary Danish L1 (age 13-14) consisting of classroom observations (12 lessons), collected student assignments, and interviews with participating teachers (2) and students (6). The theoretical framework is informed by the 3D model of literacy (Green & Beavis, 2012), social semiotic notions of multi-literacies (New London Group, 1996) as well as the scenario-based domain model (Hanghøj et al., 2018).

Green, B. & Beavis, C (2012). Literacy in 3D: An integrated perspective in theory and practice. Camberwill: ACER Press.

Hanghøj, T., Misfeldt, M., Bundsgaard, J. & Fougt, S. S. (2018). Unpacking the Domains and Practices of Game-Oriented Learning. In: Arnseth, H. C., Hanghøj, T., Misfeldt, M., Henriksen, T. D., Selander, S. & Ramberg, R. (Eds.). Games and Education: Designs in and for Learning. New York: Sense Publishers, 47-64.

Knoblauch, H. (2005). Focused ethnography. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung, 6(3). doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

The New London Group. (1996). A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-93. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.17763/haer.66.1.17370n67v22j160u