Conference PaperPDF Available

Identifying and Coding STEM Interest Triggers in a Summer Camp

Conference Paper

Identifying and Coding STEM Interest Triggers in a Summer Camp

Abstract and Figures

Our work investigates interest triggering, a necessary component of sustaining and developing long-term interest in STEM. We gathered interview data from middle school aged learners (N = 7) at a science-focused Minecraft summer camp over a period of one week. We first identified STEM interest triggering episodes, then categorized each episode based on codes developed previously by Renninger and Bachrach (2016). Our initial findings show differences in the frequency of interest triggering episodes across individuals and suggest that personal relevance and the use of Minecraft played prominent roles.
Content may be subject to copyright.
ISLS Annual Meeting 2021
Reflecting the Past and Embracing the Future
Bochum, Germany, June 8-11
Workshops: June 1-7
Ruhr University Bochum (Online Event)
15th International Conference
of the
Learning Sciences (ICLS)i
-Conference Proceedings -
Edited by: Erica de Vries, Yotam Hod, & June Ahn
Identifying and Coding STEM Interest Triggers
in a Summer Camp
Sherry Yi, Matt Gadbury, H. Chad Lane
fangyi1@illinois.edu, gadbury2@illinois.edu, hclane@illinois.edu
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract: Our work investigates interest triggering, a necessary component of sustaining and
developing long-term interest in STEM. We gathered interview data from middle school aged
learners (N = 7) at a science-focused Minecraft summer camp over a period of one week. We
first identified STEM interest triggering episodes, then categorized each episode based on codes
developed previously by Renninger and Bachrach (2016). Our initial findings show differences
in the frequency of interest triggering episodes across individuals and suggest that personal
relevance and the use of Minecraft played prominent roles.
Keywords: videogames, technology, summer camp, interest development, STEM learning
Introduction
Our research examines how interest, operationalized as a psychological construct and motivational variable
(Renninger & Hidi, 2016), can be identified in student interviews regarding their experience in a science-themed
summer camp. We define interest as heightened attention and engagement, as well as continued voluntary re-
engagement with subject matter (Hidi & Renninger, 2006). We build on and address the gaps within existing work
about interest triggering in out-of-school learning settings. Renninger and Bachrach (2015) analyzed interest
triggers of middle school-aged learners in an out-of-school biology workshop where they elaborated on a five-
step content analysis on existing interest literature and theory. This work produced eight codes describing triggers
for interest within the science workshop context: autonomy, challenge, computers/technology, group work, hands-
on activity, instructional conversation, novelty, and personal relevance. They adopted literature from different
content areas, such as reading, for the science workshop context. In this paper, we use the same approach, but in
the context of a STEM-focused summer camp that leverages Minecraft as the primary learning environment.
Our study is a contribution to the examination of interest triggers within a digital learning environment,
a field of research still in its early stages. We utilize the popular video game, Minecraft, for participants to
explore, to make observations, and to ask questions about hypothetical versions of Earth customized by our
laboratory (refer to Yi et al., 2018; Yi et al., 2020). Minecraft provides an ideal space for our work because of
the variety of science concepts that can be conveyed through the game, as well as being a space to collect data
and conduct research on how gameplay reflects interest (Lane et al., 2017).
Methods
Participants were recruited from a local youth center for a five-day STEM-focused summer camp in 2020 (N =
7; 43% female; M = 12 years old). The majority of participants self-identified as African American (4) while
others identified as biracial (2) and White or Caucasian (1). Due to the pandemic, we adapted our usual face-to-
face intervention to a hybrid form of staff and participants attending in-person and the research team attending
remotely. One-on-one interviews were conducted in a separate Zoom breakout room on the last day of the
intervention. The interview protocol for middle school students consisted of 16 questions and covered topics on
home and school life, long-term interest, Minecraft play preferences, astronomy knowledge, and camp feedback.
Analysis
Two researchers sectioned interview data into STEM interest triggering episodes, using the unknown label for
codes that did not fall under the coding scheme. Unknown interest triggering episodes will undergo thematic
analysis to create new codes or subcodes that wholly capture the out-of-school science learning experience.
Each episode is distinguished by a particular interest topic. For example, when asked about engagements with
science content, the interviewee may report how much they enjoyed their latest trip to a science museum, then
relate the science museum experience to an enjoyable classroom lesson in the past.
Inter-rater Reliability (Cohen’s Kappa)
In the identification of interest triggering episodes, there was a substantial agreement between the two
researchers, κ = .73. All disagreements were resolved in conference. There was an almost perfect agreement
ICLS 2021 Proceedings
915
© ISLS
between two researchers when using Renninger and Bachrach’s coding scheme based on two interviews, κ
= .94. All disagreements were resolved in conference.
Findings
Each STEM interest triggering episode was then coded using Renninger and Bachrach’s (2015) scheme for
interest triggers (see Table 1). Columns where interest triggers occurred are highlighted in orange.
Table 1: Interest trigger counts (in columns) based on Renninger and Bachrach (2015) codes
#
Comp/
Tech
Group
work
Hands-on
activity
Instructional
conversation
Novelty
Personal
relevance
Unknown
701
0
0
0
0
1
2
3
702
1
0
0
0
1
4
6
703
2
0
0
2
0
4
2
704
1
0
0
0
4
4
2
705
1
0
0
2
0
8
2
706
2
0
0
0
3
5
4
708
2
0
0
0
0
5
3
Conclusions and implications
Our preliminary results show a prominent role for personal relevance which specifically relates to
Minecraft use by using a familiar platform to build on prior knowledge, such as experiencing a difference in
gravity (a previously learned concept) on the Moon. Personal relevance also relates through a desire to reengage
in camp contentchoosing our server instead of outdoor play during free timeand when expressing positive
affect regarding future participation of camps. One advantage of using Minecraft is the capability of most learners
to immediately engage the science content due to the game’s relevancy and familiarity through previous play.
Another reason for the high frequency of personal relevance triggering episodes may be related to the design and
structure of our intervention that evokes feelings of personal relevance within the activities.
There were several interest triggering codes without any instances (i.e., autonomy, challenge,
computers/technology, group work, hands-on activity). This may be due to the wording of our interview questions
and/or the structure of our camp. Another possible reason is that we followed Renninger and Bachrach’s coding
scheme strictly and only allowed one type of code per episode. Future research designs using the coding scheme
by Renninger and Bachrach (2015) should consider the use of multiple codes per episode.
References
Hidi, S., & Renninger, K. A. (2006). The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist,
41(2), 111127. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4102_4
Lane. H. C., Yi, S., Guerrero, B., & Comins, N. (2017). Minecraft as a Sandbox for STEM Interest
Development: Preliminary Results. In Hayashi, Y., et al. (Eds.), Workshop Proceedings of the 25th
International Conference on Computers in Education (pp. 387-397). New Zealand: Asia-Pacific Society for
Computers in Education.
Renninger, K. A., & Bachrach, J. E. (2015). Studying triggers for interest and engagement using observational
methods. Educational Psychologist, 50(1), 5869. http://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2014.999920
Renninger, K. A., & Hidi, S. E. (2016). The Power of Interest for Motivation and Engagement. New York: Taylor
& Francis. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315771045
Yi, S., Lane, H. C., & Delialioğlu, O. (2018, August). What if we were twice as close to the Sun? Interview
findings from a science summer camp serving underrepresented youth. In F. Khosmood et al.
(Eds.), Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games. San Luis
Obispo, CA, USA: Foundations of Digital Games.
Yi, S., Gadbury, M., & Lane, H.C. (2020, June). Coding and analyzing scientific observations from middle
school students in Minecraft. In M. Gresalfi & I. S. Horn (Eds.), The Interdisciplinarity of the Learning
Sciences, 14th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2020, Volume 3 (pp. 1787-1788).
Virtual Nashville, TN, USA: International Society of the Learning Sciences.
Acknowledgments
We thank our local youth partners’ leaders, staff, and participants for their time and effort on our project. This
material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants #1713609 and #1906873.
ICLS 2021 Proceedings
916
© ISLS
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Diversity has been a prevalent issue in the American STEM workforce for a number of years. Efforts to increase diversification have resulted in alternate learning spaces such as makerspaces, after school programs, and technology integrated curriculums. Our study, hosted at a non-profit organization serving underrepresented youth, leveraged the video game Minecraft (MC) as a way to engage summer campers in scientific concepts and inquiries over one week. Reoccurring themes from interviews include familial rules on technology use at home, engaging with STEM in a novel way, and a love for building and creating within MC. We discuss our insight into the discoveries and challenges of these types of STEM-oriented program that takes place in informal settings. CCS CONCEPTS • Social and professional topics~Informal education • Social and professional topics~Race and ethnicity • Social and professional topics~Adolescents • Applied computing~Interactive learning environments • General and reference~Experimentation
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The importance of promoting interest in STEM is crucial to the recruitment and retainment of underrepresented populations in the STEM field. We created a one-week summer camp program centered around astronomy using Minecraft to help promote interest in science. We capitalize on data logs collected from two 1-week camps in summer 2019 and code scientific observations made by campers for the types of scientific observations and their level of quality using Cohen's Kappa. Results showed that the majority of observations are descriptive, comparative, inferential, or analogous, as opposed to being off topic or factual. We discuss possible reasons for this distribution and design implications for future reiterations.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
After a brief review of the science of interest and the game of Minecraft, we present a taxonomy of common Minecraft actions and activities and propose that they represent links to specific STEM disciplines. We then discuss the development of a Minecraft survey intended to identify STEM-related interests, and present the results of a pilot study using the survey in three Minecraft camps held in the summer of 2017. We describe the most and least popular Minecraft activities, and report correlations with a previously developed survey for gauging STEM attitudes and interest, revealing moderate correlations between the surveys, specifically in the earth, biological, and environmental areas of STEM. The paper concludes with highlights from interviews conducted with selected participants, a discussion of the results, and an overview of future plans for using Minecraft modes to trigger interest in specific STEM areas.
Book
The Power of Interest for Motivation and Engagement describes the benefits of interest for people of all ages. Using case material as illustrations, the volume explains that interest can be supported to develop, and that the development of a person’s interest is always motivating and results in meaningful engagement. This volume is written for people who would like to know more about the power of their interests and how they could develop them: students who want to be engaged, educators and parents wondering about how to facilitate motivation, business people focusing on ways in which they could engage their employees and associates, policy-makers whose recognition of the power of interest may lead to changes resulting in a new focus supporting interest development for schools, out of school activity, industry, and business, and researchers studying learning and motivation. It draws on research in cognitive, developmental, educational, and social psychology, as well as in the learning sciences, and neuroscience to demonstrate that there is power for everyone in leveraging interest for motivation and engagement.
Article
In this article, we discuss the contribution of observational methods to understanding the processes involved in triggering interest and establishing engagement. We begin by reviewing the literatures on interest and engagement, noting their similarities, differences, and the utility to each of better understanding the triggering process. We then provide background information about observational methods and a case illustration of their use in a post hoc analysis of observation records collected during an out-of-school biology workshop. In conclusion, we consider the advantages and limitations of observational methods. We suggest that they can offer unique insight into the triggering process. In the post hoc analysis, this includes information about multiple, co-occurring triggers for interest and variation in responses to triggers based on learner characteristics. It is acknowledged that observational methods are not sufficient, but they are necessary; they provide essential detail, especially for understanding the triggering process.
Article
Building on and extending existing research, this article proposes a 4-phase model of interest development. The model describes 4 phases in the development and deepening of learner interest: triggered situational interest, maintained situational interest, emerging (less-developed) individual interest, and well-developed individual interest. Affective as well as cognitive factors are considered. Educational implications of the proposed model are identified.