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Gaming STEM in Humanities Courses


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Using game design elements in non-game settings to engage participants and encourage desired behaviors is gamification. This technique was used in a project of Web Adventures developed by Rice University. Their goals were to increase students' science and health knowledge through free, online serious games, and to inspire science-related careers. This presentation shows the available resources and suggests some alternative applications in humanities and non-STEM coursework.

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Gaming STEM in Humanities Courses

  1. 1. Gaming STEM in Humanities Courses Ken Ronkowitz
  2. 2. USING SERIOUS GAMES or using game design elements in non-game settings to engage participants and encourage desired behaviors Project Goals 
  3. 3. Web Adventures were developed by Rice University's Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning with the educational goals to: • Increase students' science and health knowledge and • Inspire science-related careers • through serious games The site serves as a vehicle to distribute grant-based game projects to engage students and assist teachers in enhancing their core curriculum. All games and companion materials are FREE.
  4. 4. This technique was used in the hopes of improving students’ engagement which could have a positive impact on learning. A CASE STUDY USED A study that evaluated the learning effectiveness and engagement of a gamified learning activity targeted at the learning of C-programming language found that there were positive effects on the engagement of students toward the gamified learning activities and a moderate improvement in learning outcomes. “Gamification for Engaging Computer Science Students in Learning Activities: A Case Study” arnumber=6827214
  5. 5. • In CSI Rookie Training, students learn the underlying science of different forensic disciplines such as forensic biology, ballistics, toxicology, and medical examination. • In subsequent cases, players apply what they learned in Rookie Training to solve a crime. • They also explore new areas of forensic science, including fingerprint analysis, digital forensics, fire investigation, and facial reconstruction. • Players collect and analyze evidence from a crime scene, question suspects, and present their findings to solve the case.
  6. 6. 6 thematic adventures covering STEM careers: Neuroscience (Cool Science Careers, Reconstructors, and NSquad), Microbiology (MedMyst), Forensic Science (CSI), body systems (NSquad), and Clinical Trials (Virtual Clinical Trials). Player analyzing a blood sample for alcohol using gas chromatography.
  7. 7. STEM sure, but Humanities? Skills that can be addressed • Specialized and technical vocabulary • Gathering different types of evidence • Problem-solving (following protocols) • Notetaking, graphic organizers, flowcharts • Investigating evidence for validity • Many technical writing opportunities • Presentation of evidence • User testing of products created by students by other students • Analysis
  8. 8. Student-created Game Documentation • Web Adventures provides teacher materials and student handouts for middle & high school level that can be used as models. • Students take notes and create materials WHILE playing the game. • AUDIENCE – having students create materials for higher-ed or special audiences (chemistry, problem- solving, criminal justice, law, First Year Writing etc.)
  9. 9. Sample available resources
  11. 11. CRIME SCENE: Any physical location in which a crime has occurred or is suspected of having occurred. Source: PRIMARY CRIME SCENE: The original location of a crime or accident. SECONDARY CRIME SCENE: An alternate location where additional evidence may be found. ALIBI: Statement of where a suspect was at the time of a crime. ACCOMPLICE: Person associated with someone suspected of committing a crime. SUSPECT: Person thought to be capable of committing a crime. Have Students Collect Basic Vocabulary
  12. 12. Testimonial evidence includes oral or written statements given to police as well as court testimony by people who witnessed an event. Physical evidence refers to any material items that would be present at the crime scene, on the victims, or found in a suspect’s possession. Trace evidence refers to physical evidence that is found in small but measurable amounts, such as strands of hair, fibers, or skin cells. Source: What may evidence collected at a scene do for the investigation? • May prove that a crime has been committed • Establish key elements of a crime • Link a suspect with a crime scene or a victim • Establish the identity of a victim or suspect • Corroborate verbal witness testimony • Exonerate the innocent. • Give detectives leads to work with in the case Types of Evidence
  13. 13. Step 1: Interview The first step in investigating a crime scene is to interview the first officer at the scene or the victim to determine what allegedly happened, what crime took place, and how was the crime committed. This information may not be factual information but it will give the investigators a place to start. Step 2: Examine The second step in the investigation of a crime scene, which will help identify possible evidence, identify the point of entry and point of exit, and outline the general layout of the crime scene. Step 3: Document The third step in the protocol involves creating a pictorial record of the scene as well as a rough sketch to demonstrate the layout of the crime scene and to identify the exact position of the deceased victim or other evidence within the crime scene. Step 4: Process The crime scene technician will process the crime scene for evidence, both physical and testimonial evidence. It is the crime scene technicians responsibility to identify, evaluate and collect physical evidence from the crime scene for further analysis by a crime laboratory. Crime Scene Protocol (Problem Solving Steps) Adapted from
  14. 14. 1. Drug Chemistry – Determines the presence of controlled substances and the identification of marijuana 2. Trace Chemistry – ID & compare materials from fires, explosions, paints, and glass. 3. Microscopy – Microscopic identification and comparison of evidence, such as hairs, fibers, woods, soils, building materials, insulation and other materials. 4. Biology/DNA – Analysis of body fluids & dried stains such as blood, semen, and saliva. 5. Toxicology – Tests body fluids & tissues to determine the presence of drugs and poisons. 6. Latent Prints - Identification and comparison of fingerprints or other hidden impressions from sources like feet, shoes, ears, lips or the tread on vehicle tires. 7. Ballistics (Firearms) – Study of bullets and ammunition through the comparison of fired bullets, cartridges, guns, and gunpowder patterns on people and objects. 8. Toolmarks – Examines marks left by tools on objects at a crime scene or on a victim, such as a hammer used to break a door or a screwdriver used to pick a lock. 9. Questioned Documents - Examination of documents to compare handwriting, ink, paper, writing instruments, printers, and other characteristics that would help to identify its origin. Evidence – 9 common types Source:
  15. 15. Many videos are also available standalone on YouTube and can be used independent of the games.
  16. 16. videos This project was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health Partners include the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and CBS Broadcasting Inc.
  17. 17. Gaming STEM in Humanities Courses Ken Ronkowitz @ronkowitz