Across many disciplines, there is often a pull towards overly simplistic, if not deterministic, models for conceptualizing how growth is achieved. The various learning sciences of which we are members are no different, emerging partly in response to a dissatisfaction with a field dominated by instructional models focused on efficient content transmission. Such instructional systems are designed to disseminate an expert model (e.g., how to argue persuasively or test a hypothesis) or communicate a concept on the assumption that the learner will apply the abstracted characterization to future contexts. However, although such deterministic models and processes might prove efficient for maximizing short-term learning outputs (e.g., standardized test performance or following a set of procedures), they tend to be less successful for goals that emphasize using what is being learned and often suppress the very motivations of those they are designed to empower. A central assumption underlying this chapter is that any abstraction of ‘content’ from its ecological functioning (e.g., use within a particular situation) is likely to undermine its perceived value for any situation or the learners’ belief that they are likely to do something meaningful with that which they are learning.
About Sasha A. Barab PhD
Sasha Barab is a Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, where he co-founded and serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Games and Impact.
Dr. Barab is an internationally recognized Learning Scientist who holds the Pinnacle West Chair of Education, and who has researched, designed, and published extensively on the challenges and opportunities of using games for impact.
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