Facilitating spaces of collaborative learning for geoconservation using a new board game, "Reef Survivor: Jamaica"

Monday 3:30pm Tate 101


Estefania Salgado-Jauregui, Servicio Geologico Colombiano
Rowan Martindale, The University of Texas at Austin
Kathy Ellins, The University of Texas at Austin
Denise Henry, Alligator Head Foundation, Portland, Jamaica
Debbie-Ann Gordon-Smith, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
"Reef Survivor: Jamaica" is an educational board game that incorporates elements of place-based education and Earth systems thinking to help players learn about reef ecology and resilience in the face of environmental change and human disturbance. "Reef Survivor: Jamaica" was modified from the undergraduate board game "Reef Survivor" to focus on modern threats to Caribbean reefs; modifications were informed by a qualitative study with locals in Jamaica and discussions with local conservation experts. The learning goals and assessment follow the Ocean Literacy Principles; we also incorporated theory and evaluation instruments used in Place-Based education, collaborative learning, and Earth systems thinking research. The Jamaican version of the game represents the marine environment in East Portland (fringing reefs) and the game highlights important connections among the land, people, and the ocean. For example, disaster cards illustrate how contaminants from rivers can produce algae overgrowth that is detrimental for the health of the reef. We evaluated the game in the community workshop ONE LOVE, ONE PORTLAND that took place in November 2021 in Portland, Jamaica. Participants played in teams and teammates represented people with very diverse backgrounds; for example, one team included a scientist, a farmer, a representative from the Moore Town Maroons, and a member of a conservation agency. In the game, the teammates worked together (competing with other groups) to build a healthy reef and protect it from different disasters. Enriching conversations and interactions emerged during gameplaying, which were registered by trained observers in a cooperative learning observation protocol. Preliminary results show that the game helped players learn about Jamaican coral reef organisms and served as a model of Portland marine environment. Moreover, the complex interactions that connect the land, people, and reef ecosystem are modeled through gameplay facilitating an opportunity for collaborative learning (learning from each other), which is especially valuable when players have diverse backgrounds and need to work together in geoconservation of their home.