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Abstract Title: Affordances of Play for Student Agency and Student-centered Pedagogy
Abstract: Guided instruction can focus students on concepts to be learned, but can reduce student agency and ownership of learning. Over the last two years, we have implemented PhET computer simulations in middle school (MS) classrooms and found that "open play" can allow increased student agency and simultaneously lower barriers for student-centered pedagogy. In these MS classes, activities begin with 5 minutes of open play where students use simulations without instruction. A moderately-guided, inquiry-based activity follows. In focus groups, MS students articulate that they value the play time because it is fun and because it allows them to become familiar with the simulation. These students simultaneously express that the written activities are important for learning specific content. In a study of classes with play versus no-play, we found that with play, the teacher focused on student ideas and science content, while without play the teacher employed more direct instruction.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Noah Podolefsky
University of Colorado
390 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
Phone: 3036418217
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Danny Rehn, Katherine K. Perkins