Abstract Details

Changing Player One: Using Games To Change Mental Models In Adult Learners

This presentation will address the design and use of games for adult learners on the Fuller Leadership Platform (FLP). Topics will include: underlying, content-specific game design principles; the challenges and possibilities of using games in this context and for and adult audience; the design of a game for the platform (using simulation/RPG models, along with more “abstract” strategy games); and the research methods that will be employed to analyze efficacy. The presentation discusses the process used to create and analyze a game for adult learners. As the project is just starting, the goal is to get feedback on design and research methodologies. Creating these games is challenging, both from a programming and design standpoint, but also because of a lack of funding and time. Sharing the experience will help inform future teams about the promise and challenge of the possibilities of designing games for adult learners.

FLP offers continuing education resources and professional development certificates online. One of the challenges FLP faces is a lack of dynamic activities that require active participation. Games offer one possible solution, as they can create rich learning experiences. Because they encourage active participation, decision making, and reflection, they can transform learners’ mental models, crucial for learning. Mental models are “deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” These models are not static, however. Models evolve and transform as learners take in new information or are confronted with challenging situations. Learning happens when individuals either assimilate new information into an existing model or create a new mental model. Well designed games encourage players to test assumptions, apply new knowledge, and respond to situations using both old and new mental models. In so doing, games create the disequilibrium necessary to effect change. Using role-playing and simulation games give learners a chance to demonstrate their current problem-solving strategies and employ newly learned information to similar and new situations. Supported by learning resources, mental model pre- and post-assessment, and formative and summative reflections, games offer a unique opportunity to help learners reflect and revise their thinking.

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