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© Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014. An experiment A digital game for teachers and youth workers to better understand and respond to young people at risk © Infoquest.

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Presentation on theme: "© Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014. An experiment A digital game for teachers and youth workers to better understand and respond to young people at risk © Infoquest."— Presentation transcript:

1 © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

2 An experiment A digital game for teachers and youth workers to better understand and respond to young people at risk © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

3 Experiential learning ‘If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see. But if you let me experience, I will learn.’ Lao-Tzu 5 th century BC © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

4 Overview Background The original board game The digital game Identifying audience: pre-service teachers Game-based learning in the tertiary sector Testing Shaping Destinies Where to next? © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014


6 Who am I? Over fifteen years, writing and editing, including for DECD, Principals Australia, UniSA and Anangu Education Services. Working in areas of social inclusion including: ◦ Drugs and alcohol ◦ Refugees ◦ Disabilities ◦ Improving literacy and numeracy outcomes ◦ School disengagement and re-engagement ◦ Child protection ◦ Aboriginal cultural studies ◦ School-based apprenticeships ◦ Pre-service teacher units © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

7 ICAN and Social Inclusion Board/DPC Interviews with +/-300 young people, their parents, case workers, teachers and any partners in learning delivery Upper Spencer Gulf and the Adelaide northern, southern and north-western metro areas Writing newsletters, website, books, evaluation reports, conference papers © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014


9 Shaping Destinies— overview of history 2007 board game launched at ICAN conference 2013 digitised by IT students at UniSA for final year assignment 2014 trialled as a learning tool by 160 health science students. © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

10 History of Shaping Destinies 2007 ICAN state wide conference ◦ Used by 300 teachers, principals, youth workers and policy makers ◦ 40 printed copies—all quickly sold out to schools and youth agencies who used for staff PD © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

11 Why Shaping Destinies? ICAN statewide conference 2007 ◦ Lots of experts — ‘talking heads’ ◦ Why not add a creative learning tool that was immersive and interactive? ◦ But what? © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

12 The challenge To create a learning tool for: Teachers to better understand the complexities of young people at risk of disengagement from learning Youth workers to understand school contexts © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

13 Complex lives Indigenous Poverty Young mums Family breakdown Health issues, including mental health Contact with juvenile justice system Homelessness Drug and alcohol issues Isolation Refugees What was their lived experience of school? What were their barriers to engagement with learning? How could I get teachers to understand the complexity of young people’s lives if… © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

14 Learning through play? Learning through play? Play is known to be the medium through which children learn. But also: ‘Research from education, psychology, and anthropology suggests that play is a powerful mediator for learning throughout a person’s life.’ (Rieper, 1996, p.43) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

15 Role play? ‘Unlike most social games that are frequently competitive in nature, most role-playing gaming is cooperative, with no clearly defined winners or losers and potentially no defined end to the game.’ (Hawkes-Robinson, 2008, p.2) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

16 My brief to myself Marry the voices of 300 young people at risk with the existing research, including risk and protective factors Include the social determinants of health to demonstrate some yp identified as at greater risk Demonstrate the complexities of school disengagement… and that neither dis- engagement nor re-engagement are linear but occur over time © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

17 My brief to myself (2) Not suggest that young people at risk can’t succeed Not preclude other young people from being at risk Demonstrate what works: ◦ Strong relationships between teachers and students, which are positive, respectful, honest, sensitive, understanding and trusting ◦ Inclusive schooling practices and young person- centred learning ◦ Joined-up support with schools and agencies working together to offer engagement programs and sometimes wrap-around intervention © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

18 SHAPING DESTINIES— THE BOARD GAME (with pictures from the electronic game) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

19 6 characters 3 cohorts identified by Social Inclusion Board as being particularly at risk: Aboriginal young people Young people living in rural and remote areas Young people under the Guardianship of the Minister (foster children) Also at risk: Refugees Not generally considered at risk: A girl from the leafy green suburbs A boy from a tight knit Italian family © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

20 Social determinants of health Each character is accorded a pre-determined number of counters based on the social determinants of health, eg Sophie (leafy green suburbs) gets many more than Rex (Aboriginal) Players discuss what they think their character might achieve. I wanted to begin by posing this challenge. Teachers’ expectations and assumptions play a large role in the achievements of young people. (Schilling & Schilling, 1999; Bamburg J, 1994; Gonder in Raffini, 1993) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

21 Game play Three stages of schooling: ◦ Junior Primary School ◦ Junior High School ◦ Senior High School Roll a spinner to move to an event ◦ limited to 1-3 rolls so multiple events experienced at each stage Each event is positive, negative or neutral © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

22 Transition points At each transition from one stage of schooling to the next: players discuss teacher expectations and strategies: ◦ Is this what they had anticipated? ◦ What might they have done differently? ◦ What supports might they have brought in? Depending on how many counters the character has, they will travel down one of two pathways on the next stage of schooling—either greater or lesser risk. © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

23 Game play— Junior Primary School Individual customised pathway ◦ eg Rex’s experiences on community very different to Xanaan’s (the refugee, who is called ‘Anna’, as no-one can pronounce her name!) Pre-determined number of counters added or removed, depending on effect of event on wellbeing © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

24 Game play— Junior High School Pathway of greater or lesser risk determined by counters held Common pathways for all characters (no longer individualised) Chance cards introduced (can be positive or negative): gendered events (eg pregnancy) Players determine effect of the chance card and add or remove counters accordingly © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

25 Game play— Senior High School Pathways of greater or lesser risk (ie now 4 pathways) Players determine the effect of all events Characters on ‘at risk’ pathways may be invited into a re-engagement program ◦ but may still experience risk events—neither disengagement nor re-engagement are linear! Those on the riskiest pathway may be provided with a wrap-around intervention, moving them across to a lesser pathway of risk © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

26 Potential destinies From riskiest to least at risk: ◦ Juvenile justice encounter and unemployment ◦ VET course ◦ Apprenticeship ◦ Potential university placement © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014


28 Digitising the game Counters replaced by ‘riskometer’ Assignment points at beginning; each transition stage; and at end Case study generated at end of game. Case study includes any chance cards encountered, each with 2 critical questions for further investigation: ◦ How would you respond to this character’s event? (Further advice, research) ◦ What preventative strategies could you employ to increase wellbeing for young people? © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014


30 Why pre-service teachers? Shaping Destinies board game sold well Schools and agencies used for PD Feedback was very positive BUT making change school by school is slow. What if all graduating teachers had a better understanding of the barriers to engagement with learning? © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

31 The identified gap Of all the influences in school, teachers make the biggest difference. (Hattie, 2003) Many pre-service teachers are unprepared to effectively work with students at risk of disengagement. (Seal, for DOXA Youth Foundation, 2009) ‘…specialist components on appropriate pedagogies for disadvantaged students be incorporated into all teacher training courses.’ (Gonski, 2011, p.140) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

32 Interviews with graduate teachers My teacher training didn’t prepare me at all [for working with disengaged kids]...there was nothing...nothing practical, it’s all theory....(Teacher 2) The teacher training was very utopian...they say every student can be engaged, but I think that’s not true...and I understand why uni says that every student can be engaged but I think it’s also important to be realistic rather than just utopian. (Teacher 5) I had no training at all to work with disengaged kids...there was none at all....there was no discussion on it except really briefly in tutorial discussions after our teaching unit or subject...nothing as a formal part of our learning.(Teacher 6) (Seal for DOXA Youth Foundation, 2009) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

33 Unaddressed skills Hanson-Peterson identified nine skills to address the urgent needs of students at risk. Of those, the following are not addressed in the AITSL National Professional Standards for Teachers (2011): ◦ group/hands-on learning strategies ◦ fostering autonomy and competence: treat students like adults ◦ specialist support ◦ targeted interventions ◦ helping at-risk, disengaged students. (Hanson-Peterson for Brotherhood of St Lawrence, 2013, p.2) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014


35 What is gaming? Integral part of life for many teenagers ◦ 94% of 6  15 year olds play video games ◦ 57% of all gamers play either daily or every other day. (Brand, 2012) It’s the world in which they already live! © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

36 Serious games Games with a purpose other than purely entertainment ‘…exploit the game play elements of digital games in applications that are not digital games.’ (Stewart et al, 2013, p.97) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

37 Games-based learning— schools Take up in primary and secondary education ‘2011 Innovating with Technology Games-based Learning Research Trials’ (Victorian Dept of Education and Early Child Development) found that using serious games in education led to ‘…significant increases in student motivation, confidence, effort and involvement in their learning…’ © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

38 Games-based learning— tertiary Take up of serious games in tertiary sector very limited. Some take-up in science and medical fields (simulation) Seen (a decade ago) as ‘challenging institutional education’. (Schaffer et al, 2005, p.10) Still early days: ‘games and gamification will be adopted into higher education over next 2  3 years’. (Johnson et al, New Media Consortium, 2013, p.6) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

39 Game-based learning: research evidence (1) place students in convincing simulated environments which provide deep and meaningful learning experiences where they face authentic challenges (Joiner, 2012; Kearney, 2010) learn by doing whilst recognising how variables interrelate within complex issues, including social rights and poverty, without losing the connection between abstract ideas and real problems and solutions (Shaffer, 2005; Joiner, 2012; Stewart et al, 2013) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

40 Game-based learning: research evidence (2) collaborate and communicate in solving problems and gaining an understanding of principles and abstract concepts in areas considered more difficult to teach (Kearney, 2010; Larsen McClarty et al, 2012) transform players from spectators into actors who personalise meaning-making and experiment with new identities by inhabiting new worlds ‘within the ‘epistemology of a practice’—the valued grammar of the culture and practice— in which the situated understandings, knowledge, skills, identities and values are shaped (Shaffer et al, 2005; Stewart et al, 2013) by permitting players to inhabit the roles of others, they are ‘seeing the world through the eyes of that other’ and tend to filter out information that is inconsistent with their own points of view (Tucker, 2012, p.3) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

41 Game-based learning: a caution Embedding the learning: pre- and post-game discussions are essential if deeper learning experiences are to be gained in which students can share different ways of approaching both the problems they encountered and their learning. (Larsen McClarty et al, 2012) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

42 TESTING SHAPING DESTINIES © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

43 160 student testers 160 undergraduate health science students at UniSA are using Shaping Destinies. Approached by Program Director, Bachelor of Health Sciences. These are my observations: ◦ not my target audience—not undergraduate teachers. But, health science students also need to understand social determinants of health and risk and protective factors © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

44 Findings They found the game immensely engaging, but questioned authenticity of events. I had to remind them of the extensive research and voices of 300 young people that were embedded in the game! Not keen to engage with the assignment pages which is where the richness and rigour lie. Why? ◦ Assignments and reflective questions equally applicable to health science students. ◦ These pages have an ‘academic’ feel—too great a juxtaposition with the game? Maybe a more visual approach? ◦ Or was the game not sufficiently embedded into the learning delivery? (Joiner, 2012 & Larsen McClarty, 2012) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

45 Student comments ‘I see that young people who are at risk will continue on a path of ever-increasing risk if there is no intervention’. Echoes additive and multiplicative models of predicting early risk in young people (Keogh & Weisner, 1993) ‘Both negative and positive experiences are "contagious" in that they establish chains of sequences or experiences. Put bleakly, children with one negative risk factor are more likely to have more risk factors.’ (Fuller, 2001, p.40) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

46 Student comments ‘I see now how important re-engagement and intervention programs are for young people at risk.’ Echoes research and evaluations that demonstrate when re-engagement is offered through flexible learning options, with targeted support through partnerships, a high success rate in re-engagement of young people at risk is reported. (Social Inclusion Board, 2007 & 2009; Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2010; NSW Attorney General and Justice, 2013). © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

47 Early days too early to draw any conclusions about the learnings gained Students will use the game again in four weeks to see if their understandings have changed complete a feedback survey. © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

48 WHERE NEXT? © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

49 My own critique Whilst each game play is unique, it is a simple game, with outcome mainly determined by luck A critical thinking tool Players cannot intervene in character’s lives, but only respond to them (reality check) Characters have no mouths (and thus no voices—reality check). © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

50 Ideas for practice As part of the undergraduate teaching degree ◦ with customised assignments ◦ enriched by online discussions, Moodles or closed Facebook groups ◦ with additional quizzes and a badging system ◦ as an introduction prior to teaching prac, with a follow-up research assignment into disengagement whilst on prac ◦ with further ‘what-if?’ scenarios ◦ playing multiple characters and comparing events and outcomes ◦ with links to further research points, eg poverty, homelessness © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

51 Aspirations Could teachers gain from Shaping Destinies an understanding of how critical it is to: establish personal relationships and build connectedness with students in ways that each student is valued discover individual students’ passions and invite them to co- construct their learning so it is personalised and relevant prepare them, in partnership with other agencies as needed, to gain the social, emotional and cognitive competencies to navigate a complex and changing world recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is ineffective if students are to successfully navigate school and become empowered to shape their own destinies. © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014


53 References Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) (2011) ‘National Professional Standards for Teachers’, Education Services Australia for MCEEDCYA Attorney General & Justice (2013) ‘Youth on track: A model for early intervention with young people’, NSW Government Bamburg JD (1994) ‘Raising expectations to improve student learning’, Oak Brook, Illinois: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, ERIC document ED 378 290 Brand J (2012)’Digital Australia’, Bond University for Interactive Games and Entertainment Association available at (accessed 23 April 2014) Department for Education and Child Development (2014) Keeping Safe: Child Protection Curriculum, Government of South Australia, Adelaide ( forthcoming) Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2010) ‘Pathways to re-engagement through flexible learning options: A policy direction for Consultation’, State Government of Victoria Department of Education and Children’s Services (2007) Count me in! A resource to support ESL students with refugee experience in schools, Government of South Australia, Adelaide Department of Education, Science and Training (2006) ‘Strengthening Family–School Partnerships, A Guide’, Commonwealth of Australia Fuller, A (2001) A blueprint for building social competencies in children and adolescents, Australian Journal of Middle Schooling, 1,1,40-48 Games for Change (undated) ‘Empathy-themed video games could change the way you think’: think/ (accessed 18 April 2014) think/ Gonski D, Boston K, Greiner K, Lawrence C, Scales B & Tannock P (2011) ‘Review of funding for schooling: final report’, DEEWR, Australian Government © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

54 References Hattie J (2003) ‘Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence?’ Paper presented at the Australian Council for Educational Research, Melbourne Hanson-Peterson J (2013) ‘Do training programs equip teachers with skills to teach disengaged students?’, Brotherhood of St Lawrence, Fitzroy, Vic Hawkes-Robinson WA (2008, revised 2011) ‘Role-playing Games Used as Educational and Therapeutic Tools for Youth and Adults’,, available at playing_Games_Used_as_Educational_and_Therapeutic_Tool_for_Youth_and_Adults (accessed 17 April 2014) playing_Games_Used_as_Educational_and_Therapeutic_Tool_for_Youth_and_Adults ICAN (2006  2010) Newsletters, available at (accessed 22 April 2012) Johnson L, Adams Becker S, Cummins M, Estrada V, Freeman A & Ludgate H (2013).NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition, Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium Joiner R, Darling J, Drew B & Huang Y (2012) ‘Digital game based learning for supporting undergraduate students’ learning of engineering in 3 different universities’, The Higher Education Academy, STEM Kearney C (2010) ‘Poverty is not a game (PING): Handbook for teachers’, Network of European Foundations Keogh B & Weisner T (1993) ‘An ecocultural perspective on risk and protective factors in children’s development: Implications for learning disabilities’, Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 8(1), pp.3-10 Larsen McClarty K, Orr A, Frey PM, Dolan RP, Vassileva V & McVay A (2012) ‘A Literature Review of Gaming in Education: Research Report’, Pearson, content/uploads/Lit_Review_of_Gaming_in_Education.pdf content/uploads/Lit_Review_of_Gaming_in_Education.pdf Raffini J (1993) ‘Winners Without Losers: Structures and Strategies for Increasing Student Motivation To Learn’, Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon. ED 362 952 Response ability (2008) ‘Risk and protective factors’, Commonwealth of Australia, available at © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

55 References Rieper RL (1996) Seriously Considering Play: Designing Interactive Learning Environments Based on the Blending of Microworlds, Simulations and Games’, ETR&D, vol 44, no 2 pp.43–58 Schilling KM & Schilling KL (1999) ‘Increasing expectations for student effort’, About Campus, 4:2 Seal I (2009) ‘Exploring the experiences of new teachers in working with students at risk of disengagement’, DOXA Youth Foundation Shaffer DW, Halverson R, Squire KR & Gee JP (2005) ‘Video games and the future of learning: WCER Working paper no. 2005-4, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison Smyth J, Hattam R, Cannon J, Edwards J, Wilson N & Wurst S (2000) Listen to me I’m leaving: Early school leaving in South Australian Secondary Schools, Flinders Institute for the Study of Teaching, Department of Education Training and Employment & Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia, Flinders University, Adelaide Social Inclusion Board (2007) Supporting young people’s success—forging the links, Government of South Australia, Adelaide Social Inclusion Board (2009) Young people’s learning: a shared responsibility, Government of South Australia, Adelaide Stewart J, Bleumers L, van Looy J, Mariln I, All A, Schurmans D, Willaert K, De Grove F, Jacobs A & Misuraca G (2013) ‘The potential of digital games for empowerment and social inclusion of groups at risk of social and economic exclusion: evidence and opportunity for policy’, JRC Scientific and Policy Reports, European Commission Tucker D (2012) ‘Policy brief: Gaming Our Way to a Better Future’, Wilson Centre Victorian Dept of Education and Early Child Development (2010) ‘Pathways to re-engagement through flexible learning options: A policy direction for consultation’, State of Victoria, available at (accessed 22 April 2014) Victorian Dept of Education and Early Child Development (2011) ‘Innovating with Technology Games-based Learning Research Trials: Findings to inform school practice’, State of Victoria, available at (accessed 25 April 2014) © Infoquest Pty Ltd 2014

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