IMLS Grant 2012 – 2016

IMLS Grant, 2012 – 2016

Information Practices Among Youth During Guided Discovery-Based Game Design in School

Project Overview

This Institute for Museum and Library Services Early Career Development Grant project investigates a large-scale implementation of an educational game design program called Globaloria. This program aims to cultivate digital fluency, product development expertise, computational thinking, and core curriculum knowledge in students, through game design. Globaloria is being offered currently to over 5000 students in several US states. Students take game design classes as a credit-bearing daily elective. My research investigates students’ guided “discovery-based” learning during game design, as they engage in using a range of resources for learning, including peers, teachers, digital resources, an online learning management system, and other sources of expertise. Results are demonstrating opportunities and challenges of this educational innovation, with implications for the growth in learning management systems at the K-12 level, more broadly.

I have served as a consulting evaluation researcher to this project since its inception in 2006. By expanding our present Design-Based Research (DBR) agenda (e.g., Barab & Squire, 2004; Cobb, Confey & DiSessa, 2003; Wang & Hannafin, 2005) with a greater level of funding resources, the studies underway contribute to current theoretical debates in the learning and information sciences, and offer instructional design principles and best practice recommendations that can be applied in the program itself, as well as the field of school librarianship, and our training of librarians here at Rutgers University.

1.2. Project Goals.  The goals of the project are threefold:

G1. Through site visits and qualitative analysis, establish a greater understanding of the context-specific mechanisms driving student learning and digital literacy development in this guided discovery-based program of game design. Of particular interest is to understand how student inquiry and problem-solving processes contribute to learning outcomes, and the role of structured and unstructured resource “scaffolds” (at the teacher- and e-learning environment level) in facilitating learning.

G2. Refine an in-progress, quantitative multi-level analysis model explaining contributors to student learning outcomes in the Constructionist game design initiative, which is a “social learning system” as described by Wenger (2003). Dependent variables already being measured include programming and game design expertise and student engagement in activities across a framework of digital literacy skills. Goal 1 qualitative findings will further shape this analysis through distinction of new variables of importance.

G3. Develop a theoretical and instructional design cross-walk between the Constructionist work being conducted in the context of the Globaloria program (where the work is conducted largely in school computer labs, with teachers from a range of disciplines), and scholarship on re-imagining instructional roles of school and public libraries and librarians, connecting to Kuhlthau’s guided inquiry approach (2010) among others.


Reynolds, R. (2016). Relationships among tasks, collaborative inquiry processes, inquiry resolutions, and knowledge outcomes in adolescents during guided discovery-based game design in school. Journal of Information Science: Special Issue on Searching as Learning. 42: 35-58.

Reynolds, R. (2016). Defining, designing for, and measuring “digital literacy” development in learners: A proposed framework. Educational Technology Research & Development. 64(1).

Reynolds, R. & M. M. Chiu. (2015). Reducing digital divide effects through student engagement in coordinated game design, online resource uses, and social computing activities in school. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST).

Reynolds, R. & Chiu, M. (2013). Formal and informal context factors as contributors to student engagement in a guided discovery-based program of game design learning. Journal of Learning, Media & Technology. 38(4), pp. 429-462.

Reynolds, R. & Chiu, M. (2012). Contribution of motivational orientations to student outcomes in a discovery-based program of game design learning. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), July 2012, Sydney, Australia.

Reynolds, R. (2014). Understanding and Measuring Student Inquiry and Resource Use Processes, and their Contribution to Outcomes, in “Guided Discovery-Based” Learning. Published in the Proceedings of the Information Interaction in Context conference (IIiX) Workshop on Searching as Learning. Regensburg, Germany, August, 2014.

Reynolds, R. & Wolf, J. (2014). Collaborative inquiry-supported game design as a context for cultivating ‘Constructionist Digital Literacy.’ Paper presented at the annual convention of the American Education Research Association (AERA), Philadelphia, PA, April, 2014.

Reynolds, R.; Baik, EB & Li, X. (2013). Collaborative information seeking in the wild: Middle-schoolers’ self-initiated teamwork strategies to support game design. Paper presented at the annual convention of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST), 2013.

Reynolds, R. & Goggins, S. (2013). Designing socio-technical systems to support guided “discovery-based” learning in students: The case of the Globaloria game design initiative. Presented at the Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference, Leuven, Belgium.

Reynolds, R. & Goggins, S. (2011). Analyzing student wiki interactions at multiple levels of analysis within an online social network of game design learning: Team, school, and page-level findings. Presented at the CSCL Data Workshop at the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning conference, July 2011, Hong Kong.

Reynolds, R. & Harel Caperton, I. (2011). Contrasts in student engagement, meaning-making, dislikes, and challenges in a discovery-based program of game design learning. Journal of Educational Technology Research and Development, 59(2), pp. 267-289.

Reynolds, R. (2010). Developing a content analysis approach to measuring student engagement in Constructionist game making learning environments. Paper presented at the August, 2010 Annual Conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), Denver, CO.