Teach the Earth > Online Games > Workshop 08 > Cathy Manduca

Cathy Manduca

Director, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College

What is your experience with on-line games or environments?

I have little direct experience with on-line games and environments, though my son used to give me the backstory to games like Alpha Centauri on our backpacking trips and my daughter was hooked on the Sims for a while. From this I understand why Allan is excited by games that aren't based on multiple choice, and I appreciate that students can learn to understand things like the value of natural resources and the feedbacks of complex systems from these kinds of experiences.

Here are some things that I have worked on that are relevant to our discussions:

On-line Data, Models and Simulations, Visualizations

These sites pulls together a number of resources we have developed over the years addressing the use of scientific data in teaching geoscience. Most recently, we ran a workshop in February aimed at showcasing what people are doing in their classrooms, where the geoscience research front is going with data visualization and modeling, and how these tool/ideas might be used in teaching. The web resources from the workshop are still being developed - so it is useful to check out the program where you can find powerpoints, posters, and essays from the participants and speakers. Key ideas that are useful to our work are
  • the ways in which students struggle with models, the importance of teaching modeling, and some resources/examples of people using state of the art models
  • 3d models useful for research purposes are really powerful for upper division students (e.g. GeoMapApp and IDV) – these models are distinct from tools for making polished illustrations
  • the power that comes from customized data manipulation tools vs the ease that comes from using widespread tools like Google Earth
  • visualization tools for making wow illustrations that lower barriers to interpretation (e.g. GeoWall)
Kim Kastens and Steve Reynolds both gave keynotes at this workshop that are worth looking at (linked from program). Kim did a tour de force on research on learning that illuminates our teaching with data, visualizations and models that is relevant to this group – object vs spatial visualization; scaffolding visual learning;distributed cognition.

Research on Learning

I've done a wide variety of things ranging from workshops on aspects of learning in geoscience (e.g visualization, affective domain, assessment) to convening sessions and editing books to working on a synthesis of research on learning in the geoscience(in progress) to helping design and implement experiments as part of the Spatial Intellegence Learning Center.

Through this work I am conversant on

  • different kinds of spatial skills
  • the role of emotion and motivation in learning
  • design of studies to assess learning in various situations

Our overarching website on Research on Learning in the Geosciences has a growing, searchable annotated bibliography which is a current work in progress.

You can find out more about me, SERC, and things I've written on my SERC page or learn the story of my professional career in this interview.

What do you hope to learn from the workshop experience?

I set the workshop goals :).

What specific aspects of on-line games and environments in geoscience education are you interested in discussing with other workshop participants?

I really want to leave this workshop with a set of links to

  • examples of games/simulations in use in geoscience education
  • seminal papers on gaming in education
  • relevant pubs from the learning/education literature

Cathy Manduca --Discussion  

Hi Cathy,
As you know its a little scary out there. When any physical or natural scientist/teacher begins to look at the literature of cognitive psychology about spatial ability, it enough for most sane people to run back into the rock lab. The same is also true for games. In many ways this workshop points to the need in our community for bootstrapping interested geoscientists into the basics of gaming theory and its vocabulary. The payoff is that those psychologists have some really great insight and we do have something to game about, and geoscientists are of course in my humble opinion the best-prepared group for assimilating the rest of science anyway. I'm working on my contribution of papers but where should these go? I uploaded some pdfs yesterday but have no idea if they are listed anywhere.


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