University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

NARST 2015 (Wallon, Jasti, Lauren)

Using a Computer Game to Introduce Scientific Explanations to Students.


A Framework for K-12 Science Education specifies eight scientific practices in which students should engage to more effectively learn science. Two of the practices are “constructing explanations” and “engaging in argument from evidence” (NRC, 2012). These practices have been integrated into the Next Generation Science Standards, and as states adopt and enact these new standards more teachers will seek resources to align their curriculum. Recent research provides valuable insight into how the elements of teacher instruction, specific scaffolds, and digital environments can impact students’ development of scientific explanations. However, more research is needed to determine different and effective ways to engage students in the scientific practices.The purpose of this case study is to describe how a high school biology teacher introduced her students to writing scientific explanations through the context of a computer game about traumatic brain injury and associated curriculum materials. Teacher instruction and student artifact data from two consecutive years of enactment were collected, characterized, and compared. Our findings suggest scaffolds external to the computer game play an important role in helping students write high quality scientific explanations. Implications for curriculum development are also discussed.


Robert Wallon*, Chandana Jasti*, Hillary Lauren*, and Barbara Hug. (2015). Interactive poster paper session at the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Annual Internation Conference, Chicago, IL.

*Conference presenters

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