Sasha A. Barab

Sasha A. Barab
Arizona State University | ASU · Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

Ph.D. in Cognition and Instruction

About

154
Publications
63,297
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13,143
Citations

Publications

Publications (154)
Book
Full-text available
Lacking a digital crystal ball, we cannot predict the future of education or the precise instructional role games will have going forward. Yet we can safely say that games will play some role in the future of K-12 and higher education, and members of the games community will have to choose between being passive observers or active, progressive cont...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, the authors argue that video games offer unique and pervasive opportunities for children to develop social dispositions that are necessary to succeed in the 21st century. To this end, they discuss the design of TavCats-a virtual role-playing game that aimed to engage children (ages 9 to 13) in understanding, acting upon, and coming t...
Chapter
This study investigates the impact of using 3D immersive game curricula, designed specifically for teacher education, and based in the transformational play theory to inform its impact design. Specifically, we investigated a game-based learning experience called ‘Quest2Teach: The Pursuit of Professionalism,’ in which pre-service teachers enter a vi...
Article
The Doctors Cure learning experience is a 3D immersive game that positions players as protagonists in a virtual world where they must use their understanding of persuasive writing and how to gain evidence from complex texts in their role of investigative reporter. We report on the underlying educational theory, the game itself, and, to justify its...
Article
Education is about revealing possibility and exciting passions, empowering learners with the disciplinary expertise to meaningfully act on problematic contexts in which applying disciplinary knowledge is important. Toward this end, we have been using gaming methodologies and technologies to design curricular dramas that position students as active...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Atlantis Remixed is a 3D multi-user education platform that immerses children, ages 9-16, in educational play. Atlantis Remixed is the result of over a decade of research with Quest Atlantis. It synthesizes the theory of transformational play (Barab, Gresalfi, & Ingram-Goble, 2010), lessons learned through years of implementation inside of hundre...
Chapter
Full-text available
While gaming technologies are typically leveraged for entertainment purposes, our experience and as-piration is to use them to encourage engagement with global, politically-sensitive issues. This chapter focuses on our game design concerning the struggle of Uganda, a design that allows players to expe-rience the atrocities and inhumane conditions a...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we describe our research using a multi-user virtual environment, Quest Atlantis, to embed fourth grade students in an aquatic habitat simulation. Specifically targeted towards engaging students in a rich inquiry investigation, we layered a socio-scientific narrative and an interactive rule set into a multi-user virtual environment gam...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we describe our research using a multi-user virtual environment, Quest Atlantis, to embed fourth grade students in an aquatic habitat simulation. Specifically targeted towards engaging students in a rich inquiry investigation, we layered a socio-scientific narrative and an interactive rule set into a multi-user virtual environment gam...
Article
Once understood in the context of the narratives that give it meaning, law becomes not merely a system of rules to be observed, but a world in which to live. We have reached a challenging junction at which, on the one hand, teachers and schools face increased pressure to prepare students for standardized tests, whereas, on the other hand, they face...
Book
Full-text available
This volume is the first reader on videogames and learning of its kind. Covering game design, game culture, and games as 21st century pedagogy, it demonstrates the depth and breadth of scholarship on games and learning to date. The chapters represent some of the most influential thinkers, designers, and writers in the emerging field of games and le...
Chapter
Education is about revealing possibility and exciting passions, empowering learners with the disciplinary expertise to meaningfully act on problematic contexts in which applying disciplinary knowledge is important. Toward this end, we have been using gaming methodologies and technologies to design curricular dramas that position students as active...
Article
Full-text available
Videogames are a powerful medium that curriculum designers can use to create narratively rich worlds for achieving educational goals. In these worlds, youth can become scientists, doctors, writers, and mathematicians who critically engage complex disciplinary content to transform a virtual world. Toward illuminating this potential, the authors adva...
Article
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This article discusses the ways that tasks and classroom cultures can be supported through the design of online immersive games. The authors focus on a mathematics unit in which students become statisticians who must understand the contextual implications of using particular mathematical tools in analyzing different data sets and reflect on what th...
Article
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in this study, we investigated children's (ages 10 to 14) stances with respect to the ethics of online identity play through a new experimental methodology. We used a scenario about peer identity misrepresentation embedded in a 3d vir-tual game environment and randomly assigned 265 elemen-tary students (162 female, 103 male) to three conditions tha...
Article
Full-text available
We implemented a five-week family program called Family Quest where parents and children ages 9 to 13 played Quest Atlantis, a multiuser 3D educational computer game, at a local after-school club for 90-minute sessions. We used activity theory as a conceptual and an analytical framework to study the nature of intergenerational play, the collaborati...
Article
Full-text available
Although every era is met with the introduction of powerful technologies for entertainment and learning, videogames represent a new contribution binding the two and bearing the potential to create sustained engagement in a curricular drama where the player's knowledgeable actions shape an unfolding fiction within a designed world. Although traditio...
Conference Paper
In this presentation, we will discuss the design history, comparison studies, and scaling research focused on four units we have designed based on our theory of transformational play. The goal is to both discuss the power of these designs, but also the challenges of scaling such innovative learning experiences internationally. These four units (one...
Article
Full-text available
Intelligence, expertise, ability and talent, as these terms have traditionally been used in education and psychology, are socially agreed upon labels that minimize the dynamic, evolving, and contextual nature of individual-environment relations. These hypothesized constructs can instead be described as functional relations distributed across whole...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this study is to explore learning/instruction within a technology -rich, collaborative, participatory learning environment by tracking the emergence of shared understanding and products through an examination of student and teacher practices. Our interest was not simply in the interactions among students or between students and teach...
Article
Full-text available
Education is about revealing possibility and exciting passions, empowering learners with the disciplinary expertise to meaningfully act on problematic contexts in which applying disciplinary knowledge is important. Toward this end, we have been using gaming methodologies and technologies to design curricular dramas that position students as active...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Although every era is met with the introduction of powerful technologies for entertainment and learning, video games represent a new contribution binding the two and bearing the potential to create sustained engagement in a curricular drama where the player’s knowledgeable actions shape an unfolding fiction within a designed world. While traditiona...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the tensions surrounding the implementation of a technology-rich educational innovation called Quest Atlantis (QA) in a local public elementary school. Three qualitative case studies of three classrooms implementing the innovation and a subsequent cross-case analysis were undertaken to illuminate: 1) the reasons why teachers cho...
Article
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Drawing on game-design principles and an underlying situated theoretical perspective, we developed and researched a 3D game-based curriculum designed to teach water quality concepts. We compared undergraduate student dyads assigned randomly to four different instructional design conditions where the content had increasingly level of contextualizati...
Article
What does it mean to know, and how do educators best support learning?? These questions have been under debate since Aristotle, and quite likely even before that. At the very core of this debate is a quarrel about the relationship between person and environment, between knowing and meaning, between content and context. In the three worked examples...
Article
The number of games, simulations, and multi-user virtual environments designed to promote learning, engagement with subject matter, or intended to contextualize learning has been steadily increasing over the past decade. While the use of these digital designs in educational settings has begun to show promise for improving learning, motivation, and...
Article
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Purpose – This paper aims to advance the idea of consequential engagement, positioning it as a necessary complement to the more common practices of supporting procedural or conceptual engagement. More than a theoretical argument, this notion is grounded in examples from the authors' work in enlisting game-based methodologies and technologies for su...
Article
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This article examines the qualitative findings from a mixed-methods comparison study of the use of an online multi-user virtual environment called Anytown which supplemented face-to-face writing instruction in a fourth grade classroom to determine implications for the design of such environments and the reported impact of this design on students an...
Article
Two major obstacles to using problem-based learning methods with writing in elementary school classrooms are the time it takes to design the learning environment and the time required for students to interact at their own pace with ill-structured problems used to spur student writing. This study examined whether game elements could be used along wi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this presentation we overview our theory and design work around conceptual play spaces. Conceptual play is a state of engagement that involves (a) projection into the role of a character who, (b) engaged in a partly fantastical problem context, (c) must apply conceptual understandings to make sense of and, ultimately, transform the context. Addi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Four research projects used Second Life™, a 3D virtual-world platform, to investigate aspects of technology-enhanced STEM education. These European and USA studies, which differ in their pedagogical-philosophy commitments, theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and target content, critically examine a range of cognitive, affective, technical, and s...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We designed a five-week family program where seven parent-child dyads ages 9 to 12 played Quest Atlantis, a multi-user 3D educational computer-game used in middle schools internationally as part of the school curriculum, in an informal setting. Our goal was to understand the challenges, opportunities, and collaborative work that result when both pa...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Three design principles are advanced for multi-user educational videogames. First, they should support situative embodiment in academic knowledge, where personally meaningful activities and coherent narratives foster collective engagement. Second, they should offer multiple levels and forms of meaningful assessment and the opportunity to succeed, f...
Article
Full-text available
This research began with the premise that video game play, especially as it relates to participation in persistent virtual worlds, provides fictional spaces where players engage in cognitive and communicative practices that can be personal-ly transformative in prosocial ways. Players' experiences with these worlds are as much defined by the technic...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter we provide a framework for designing play spaces to support learning academic content. Reflecting on our four years of design experience around developing conceptual play spaces, we provide guidelines for educators to think through what it would mean to design a game for supporting learning. Conceptual play is a state of engagement...
Article
Full-text available
Two major obstacles to using problem-based learning methods with writing in elementary school classrooms are the time it takes to design the learning environment and the time required for students to interact at their own pace with ill-structured problems used to spur student writing. This study examined whether game elements could be used along wi...
Article
In this manuscript, we describe conceptual play spaces: curricular contexts that leverage what is known about how people learn, the metaphorical power of narratives, and game design principles to establish an educational, entertaining, and personally transformative context for learning. In contrast to a focus on abstracted content and how to most e...
Article
This study describes an example of design-based research in which we make theoretical improvements in our understanding, in part based on empirical work, and use these to revise the curriculum and, simultaneously, our evolving theory of the relations between contexts and disciplinary formalisms. Prior to this study, we completed a first cycle of de...
Article
The question of what students gain by engaging in socioscientific inquiry is addressed in two ways. First, relevant literature is surveyed to build the case that socioscientific issues (SSI) can serve as useful contexts for teaching and learning science content. Studies are reviewed which document student gains in discipline specific content knowle...
Chapter
Full-text available
The following three chapters describe situations in which gaming environments have been taken into innovative subject areas, and studied through a variety of complex, triangular means. The first offers insight into the Quest Atlantis project and the implementation of multi-participant environments to help teach children social awareness and respons...
Article
Full-text available
Although the work of learning scientists and instructional designers has brought about countless curricula, designs, and theoretical claims, the community has been less active in communicating the explicit and implicit critical social agendas that result (or could result) from their work. It is our belief that the community of learning scientists i...
Article
Full-text available
Although the work of learning scientists and instructional designers has brought about countless curricula, designs, and theoretical claims, the community has been less active in communicating the explicit and implicit critical social agendas that result (or could result) from their work. It is our belief that the community of learning scientists i...
Article
Full-text available
The manuscripts that comprise this special issue are focused on understanding how games and immersive participatory simulations, with their focus on doing science (not receiving science), are becoming an emerging type of curricula for supporting science education. The environments discussed here build on theoretical frameworks positing that ‘‘knowi...
Article
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In this forum we discuss a non-reductionist perspective of thinking in science.
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we describe our research using a multiuser virtual environment, Quest Atlantis, to embed fourth grade students in an aquatic habitat simulation. Specifically targeted towards engaging students in a rich inquiry investigation, we layered a socio-scientific narrative and an interactive rule set into a multiuser virtual environment gamin...
Article
This article describes the development and evaluation of STARstreams, a pilot effort to utilize videos and online discussions in a conflict resolution curriculum that acknowledges the inherent socio-personal aspects of conflict. The STARstreams curricula includes a set of video-based scenarios depicting conflict situations and potential resolutions...
Article
Full-text available
The goal of this article is to advance an ecological theory of knowing, one that prioritizes engaged participation over knowledge acquisition. To this end, the authors begin by describing the environment in terms of affordance networks: functionally bound potentials extended in time that can be acted upon to realize particular goals. Although there...
Chapter
Full-text available
At a recent conference, a clinical psychologist who works with gifted students engaged the first author in an exciting and challenging conversation. As we discussed specific research and case studies involving gifted children, we realized that we were talking almost exclusively about the importance of context in defining and addressing giftedness....
Article
Full-text available
This article describes the Quest Atlantis (QA) project, a learning and teaching project that employs a multiuser, virtual environment to immerse children, ages 9-12, in educational tasks. QA combines strategies used in commercial gaming environments with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. It allows users at participating...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of a community of practice (CoP) is prevalent in several venues for teachers' professional development, especially in online environments. However, there are few descriptive accounts that effectively represent a CoP in a manner that will be of use to other designers. In order to illuminate potential difficulties which may arise when att...
Article
Design-based research is a collection of innovative methodological approaches that involve the building of theoretically-inspired designs to systematically generate and test theory in naturalistic settings. Design-based research is especially powerful with respect to supporting and systematically examining innovation. In part, this is due to the fa...
Article
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This article describes critical design ethnography, an ethnographic process involving participatory design work aimed at transforming a local context while producing an instructional design that can be used in multiple contexts. Here, we reflect on the opportunities and challenges that emerged as we built local critiques then reified them into a de...
Article
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In this article we describe the evolving structure of the Inquiry Learning Forum (ILF), a sociotechnical interaction network (STIN) designed to support a Web-based community of in-service and preservice mathematics and science teachers sharing, improving, and creating inquiry-based pedagogical prac-tices. Specifically, we apply activity theory as a...
Article
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The article highlights and problematizes some challenges that are faced in carrying out design-based research. It states that the emerging field of learning sciences is one that is interdisciplinary, drawing on multiple theoretical perspectives and research paradigms so as to build understandings of the nature and conditions of learning, cognition...
Article
A growing number of educators are exploring digital games for engaging students in learning experiences, but relatively little is known about how games engage players, how learning occurs through gameplay, or what interactions occur when complex games are brought into school culture. This case study examines what happens when Civilization III was b...