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Aroutis Foster Awarded NSF CAREER Grant for “Learning as Identity Exploration Within Games for Science”

August 15, 2014

Aroutis Foster, PhD was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Development (CAREER) Program award for nearly $765,000 for the project “CAREER: Projective Reflection: Learning as Identity Exploration Within Games for Science.”  The Faculty Early Development (CAREER) Program is the NSF's most prestigious award that supports junior faculty who engage in outstanding research, education, and the integration of education and research.

The award is funded as a continuing grant from August 1, 2014 through July 31, 2019. This is the first CAREER Program grant awarded to a faculty member of the School of Education.

“Learning as Identity Exploration Within Games for Science” will use science games shown to be enjoyable to students and proven to promote student learning in science at the middle school level. Through a two-phase process, games will be used as vehicles for learning ways to change how students think about science and potentially STEM careers. The goal of the intervention is to explore which processes and design features of science games will help students move beyond a temporary identity of being a scientist or engineer (as portrayed while playing the game) to one where students began to see themselves in real STEM careers.

Student participation will be guided by a team of teachers, a faculty member, and graduate students from Drexel University and a local school. Science students attending a Philadelphia middle school will participate in the intervention.

The project will advance the burgeoning domain of educational gaming through the development of theory and research on how gaming influences identity change, motivation, and learning of science content. Additionally, the project addresses the need of developing students’ identities, motivation, and learning in STEM, and developing teachers’ capacity to promote these processes.