Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting Girls Engaged in Digital-Game Design

Do middle school students spend too much time playing digital games? If so, is there any value in what they are doing within those games? There is a push to have all students, especially girls, to be more interested in STEM fields of study (science, technoloyg, engineering and math). During the middle school years it's important to expose students to STEM careers as these students begin thinking about future careers and the classes they will need to take in high school.

Girls and boys approach computers from different perspectives - boys enjoy being competitive and girls typically enjoy interacting with the characters and the environment of the game. To meet this need "requires a much more sophisticated technology that has only been possible in recent years to create those kinds of games", according to Cornelia Brunner, the deputy director of the Center for Children and Technology at the Newton, Mass.-based Education Development Center.

Karen Peterson, the executive director of the Lynwood, Wash.-based Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, states, “The gaming industry understands that they need to attract girls and women. Games and the virtual world can be a really great hook for getting girls excited about STEM careers.”

How can teachers differentiate their instruction to better meet the diverse interests of boys and girls?

Strategies for Girls from

  1. Collaborative groups encourage girls to be leaders during instructional time.
  2. Provide a more face-to-face nurturing environment rather than a shoulder-to-shoulder environment found in a coed or boys' room.
  3. Consider comfortable seating - bean bag chairs or sofas.
  4. Challenge girls as much as the boys.
  5. Include the context surrounding the curriculum - who, what, why, when, where.
  6. Tie the lesson to real world situations.
  7. Encourage girls to ask questions in class.
  8. Provide opportunities for role-playing within the curriclum.
  9. Create a learning environment of openness and and understanding to encourage girls to take risks and be more willing to answer questions.

Strategies for Boys from
  1. Move around the room - front to back and side to side.
  2. Teach with a strong, loud, tone of voice.
  3. Frequently interrupt the lesson to directly ask questions of students.
  4. Provide clear instructions.
  5. Find non-fiction literature with strong main characters.
  6. Provide opportunitites to move and be flexible within the classroom.
  7. Use games or models to engage them in a serious conference.
  8. Use team competitions in academics.
  9. Remember that feeling-based questions are uncomfortable for boys.

To read the entire article please go to Digital Directions and read Getting Girls Engaged in Digital-Game Design.

To learn more about companies and schools who are making games for girls check out:
Universe Quest from the Hands On University Project

Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab

Her Interactive

1 comment:

Martha Dawn Howell said...

Check out designed by Renee Hobbs' team at Temple University!