School of Education, Curriculum & Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 544B TEB, 225 N. Mills St., Madison, WI 53706, USA
While the knowledge economy has reshaped the world, schools lag behind in producing appropriate learning for this social change. Science education needs to prepare students for a future world in which multiple representations are the norm and adults are required to “think like scientists.” Location-based augmented reality games offer an opportunity to create a “post-progressive” pedagogy in which students are not only immersed in authentic scientific inquiry, but also required to perform in adult scientific discourses. This cross-case comparison as a component of a design-based research study investigates three cases (roughly 28 students total) where an Augmented Reality curriculum, Mad City Mystery, was used to support learning in environmental science. We investigate whether augmented reality games on handhelds can be used to engage students in scientific thinking (particularly argumentation), how game structures affect students’ thinking, the impact of role playing on learning, and the role of the physical environment in shaping learning. We argue that such games hold potential for engaging students in meaningful scientific argumentation. Through game play, players are required to develop narrative accounts of scientific phenomena, a process that requires them to develop and argue scientific explanations. We argue that specific game features scaffold this thinking process, creating supports for student thinking non-existent in most inquiry-based learning environments.