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Reflective, reflexive guided appropriation: Facilitating teacher adoption of game based learning in classrooms
Professional development
Issue Date: 
Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 6th European Conference on Games Based Learning (2012), University College Cork and Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland, 4 - 5 October 2012
The use of games to advance learning in the classroom often appeals to teachers perplexed by students who disengage from conventional instructional processes. However, the research literature suggests that enthusiasm quickly wanes when obstacles are encountered and things do not work out as expected. Consequently, the take-- up of game-- based learning is inhibited, and the “scaling” of techno-- pedagogical innovations into routine classroom practice stalls. Recognizing that teacher preparation is crucial for successful implementation of innovative game-based curriculum in the classroom, a process-centric “appropriation model of innovation uptake” was initially suggested as a conceptual tool with which to approach the said challenge. This model draws on ideas from Coburn (2003) on “rethinking scale” in the context of school reform, as well as those of Clark and Dede (2009). The suggested model shifts the focus of attention from a system perspective of “scaling” to a model where the teacher plays the central role. It foregrounds the construct of “shift” as being central to what is required for teachers to sustain and to spread the adoption of game-- based learning pedagogy. The model positions depth and ownership as critical factors that influence the likelihood of achieving a stable shift in teaching practice, while recognizing the importance of system support for accommodating and rewarding innovative teaching practice. This appropriation model helped us to engage in a research project whose objective has been to level up teacher capacity for successfully enacting game-- based learning in the classroom. This paper describes (a) the appropriation model and its evolution over the course of our research, and (b) challenges faced by teachers in enacting the game-based learning pedagogy. The paper reports findings from three separate implementations of the Statecraft X game-based learning curriculum. We worked with four schoolteachers in two government secondary schools in Singapore. Over the course of our work, the initial appropriation model evolved to include a ‘teacher-identity’ component that is strongly influenced by teacher professional development. Thus, our model developed into a process model of teacher development through reflective, reflexive guided appropriation. In the paper, we cite instances of tensions faced by teachers that are related to (1) sense of professional responsibility, (2) entrenched teaching habits, (3) questioning of deeply seated epistemological beliefs and values, (4) misalignments with conventional modes of assessing student learning. These tensions illuminate the somewhat unpredictable pathway of learning and development that teachers need to traverse and make sense of. Our findings suggest that, to the extent the development process was seriously dislocating and triggered a process of introspective reflection, it was also the most deeply transformational. Teachers who did not experience perturbation to their understanding and a deep sense of disequilibrium showed the least growth in terms of professional development. In general, teachers have to deal with complex personal issues, in addition to managing social and institutional factors, as they navigate the process of changing their teaching practice.
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