Learning in Discussion Forums: An Analysis of Knowledge Construction in a Gaming Affinity Space

Learning in Discussion Forums: An Analysis of Knowledge Construction in a Gaming Affinity Space

Don Davis (University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA) and Vittorio Marone (University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2016070101
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In the learning sciences and game studies communities, there has been an increasing interest in the potential of game-related “paratexts” and “surrounds” in supporting learning, such as online discussion forums and gaming affinity spaces. While there have been studies identifying how learning occurs in such communities, little research has been done on learning at the aggregate level. This study examined the social construction of knowledge in two sections of the discussion forums in the TUG (“The Untitled Game”) gaming affinity space. Findings suggest that game-like prompts and sections in online discussion forums can spur higher level forms of interaction and learning and can have implications for the design of gaming communities in which the social construction of knowledge is a desired outcome.
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The Social Construction Of Knowledge

Games and gaming affinity spaces present an advantageous intersection of cognition and socialization. The challenge of games (cf. Csikszentmihalyi, 2000) and potential for socialization around such challenge bolsters the likelihood of related behaviors (cf. Steinkuehler, 2005). How such mutually reinforcing contingencies may be leveraged to increase academic and cognitive skill proficiency is of great interest to educational researchers and instructional designers. In particular, the beneficial intersection of cognition and socialization within games is extended through the refinement of gameplay skills and knowledge that occurs in gaming affinity spaces. Specifically, as evident in gaming communities, the negotiated understandings that arise in the discourse with peers and near-peers can support the social construction of knowledge (Fosnot & Perry, 2005; Tudge, 1992; Vygotsky, 1978) and foster the development of scientific verbal behaviors (Kulatunga, Moog, & Lewis, 2013) that are conductive to “scientific habits of mind” (Steinkuehler & Duncan, 2008). Such practices can help people become more effective and more authentic learners (Dewey, 1910 as cited in Steinkuehler & Duncan, 2008, p. 531). In this context, games and gaming affinity spaces have been identified as highly cooperative and supportive spaces exemplifying and evidencing social construction of knowledge (Jenkins, 2006; Steinkuehler, 2005). In such spaces, collaboration and discussion are essential to learning (Barab, Hay, Barnett, & Squire, 2001; Squire & Barab, 2004). Indeed, the discourse surrounding the game can be more significant to learning than the form of the game itself (e.g., Goodwin, 1995).

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