Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 236–247 | Cite as

Implementation of a Curriculum-Integrated Computer Game for Introducing Scientific Argumentation

  • Robert C. Wallon
  • Chandana Jasti
  • Hillary Z. G. Lauren
  • Barbara Hug


Argumentation has been emphasized in recent US science education reform efforts (NGSS Lead States 2013; NRC 2012), and while existing studies have investigated approaches to introducing and supporting argumentation (e.g., McNeill and Krajcik in Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(1), 53–78, 2008; Kang et al. in Science Education, 98(4), 674–704, 2014), few studies have investigated how game-based approaches may be used to introduce argumentation to students. In this paper, we report findings from a design-based study of a teacher’s use of a computer game intended to introduce the claim, evidence, reasoning (CER) framework (McNeill and Krajcik 2012) for scientific argumentation. We studied the implementation of the game over two iterations of development in a high school biology teacher’s classes. The results of this study include aspects of enactment of the activities and student argument scores. We found the teacher used the game in aspects of explicit instruction of argumentation during both iterations, although the ways in which the game was used differed. Also, students’ scores in the second iteration were significantly higher than the first iteration. These findings support the notion that students can learn argumentation through a game, especially when used in conjunction with explicit instruction and support in student materials. These findings also highlight the importance of analyzing classroom implementation in studies of game-based learning.


Game-based learning Scientific argumentation Curriculum 



The research and curriculum materials described in this publication were supported by Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Award Number R25OD011144 and a supplement to the parent grant. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We thank everyone—Project NEURON members and others—who developed, tested, and offered feedback on the Why Dread a Bump on the Head? curriculum unit and The Golden Hour game. We realize this study would not be possible without teachers who are willing to test our materials, and we are extremely grateful to the teacher in this study for welcoming us into her classroom. We are also grateful to Claire Scavuzzo and Emily Serblin, for assistance with data transcription and analysis.

Supplementary material

10956_2017_9720_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (27 kb)
Online Resource 1 A flowchart diagram of the dialogue between the physician (gray boxes) and student (yellow boxes) in Scene 1 of The Golden Hour. The dialogue is intended to model the CER framework by prompting students to select a (a) claim and (b) provide evidence and (c) reasoning (PDF 26 kb)
10956_2017_9720_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (308 kb)
Online Resource 2 Rubric used in scoring CER components of student arguments of scientific arguments from Scene 1 of The Golden Hour; adapted from McNeill and Krajcik (2012) (PDF 308 kb)
10956_2017_9720_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (116 kb)
Online Resource 3 Student post-test used to measure science content knowledge covered by the curriculum unit and The Golden Hour game (PDF 115 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EducationUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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