Professional Development for Scaling Pedagogical Innovation in the Context of Game-Based Learning: Teacher Identity as Cornerstone in Shifting” Practice

December, 2015

Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 43, No. 5, 423–437, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examined how teacher professional development could be conceived and conducted to support take up of digital game-based learning in the context of a 3-week social studies unit on governance and citizenship.

The participants were nine school-teachers, who taught social studies in five separate government secondary schools.
They were six female and three male. The teachers taught 15-year-old students in either the Express or the Normal (Academic) stream in the Singapore school system.
The authors conducted classroom interventionsan that took place between January 2012 and February 2013.
Each Statecraft X curriculum intervention lasted for 3 weeks.

All participants attended an initial 2-day professional development workshop during which they were introduced to dialogic pedagogy, game-based learning, and the Statecraft X game.
The participants were also required to play the game as a student would for five consecutive days.
Each intervention cycle included six classroom lessons spread over 3 weeks.
The duration of each lesson ranged between 45 and 60 minutes.
The authors interviewed the teachers once before the intervention commenced. The authors also held post-lesson dialogues after lessons 2 through 6. A set of structured questions was used to provide initial guidance for these conversations.

The authors describe the Statecraft X curriculum as a game for instantiating a complex, simulated lived experience of governing so that students have a meaningful context within which to construct their personal understanding of governance and its relation to citizenship through dialogue.
The participants learnt to be virtual governors in the game world.
The participants were encouraged to consider, from the perspective of citizens, what their preferred model of governance is.

The design of this game and its subsequent classroom utilisation represent a marked departure from traditional pedagogies associated with educational games.
The findings indicate that preparing teachers to appropriate curricula innovations involves deeply personal transformations that intersect with the core of their professional identity.
The teachers, who play the game, face dilemmas and conflicts in making professional and personal decisions.
Although this is unsettling, it is very disruption to existing practice that unlocks the affordances for shifting practice and reconstructing identity.

This study suggests that teacher professional development through reflective, reflexive guided appropriation is vital.
During the post-lesson conversations with teachers, the authors constantly guided them as they reflected on their classroom actions and the assumptions underlying those actions.
The authors also helped them give voice to and negotiate the dilemmas they experienced while trying to tread a fine line between an old and a new teaching practice.

These findings have implications for theory, practice, and policy.
This study indicates that it is vitally important to support the process of teacher identity reconstruction.
The study also suggests that teachers need to integrate and coordinate their knowledge and skills to the higher level of performance where they can enact the enhanced practice in an embodied way.

Finally, educational administrators must understand and acknowledge the challenges that teachers must navigate to transform practice successfully. 

Updated: Jun. 13, 2018