School Personnel

CAREER: Projective Reflection: Learning as Identity Exploration within Games for Science

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

This CAREER project addresses learning and identity change in virtual game worlds. The aim in this CAREER is supporting science learning and teaching through a process of projective reflection that involves change in identity, motivation, and learning for students. The current research program will: (1) investigate and characterize processes of identity change in gaming, (2) investigate the relations of different types of identity change to academic motivation and learning of science content, (3) investigate features of gaming that facilitate desirable identity change, motivation, and learning, and (4) design teacher professional development on the effective use of games to support identity change, motivation, and learning. Innovative mechanisms that use technologies such as digital games and immersive worlds may help students to explore identities, develop motivation, and have the 21st century knowledge for postsecondary academic success and maybe future careers in the STEM workforce.


The project is twofold, with the first part being conducted at a university in Philadelphia to analyze and characterize games. The second portion beginning in year 3 will also be conducted in Philadelphia, but in a grade 8 classroom in a west Philadelphia K-8 school.

Research Design: 

The project uses a longitudinal and comparative research design and will generate evidence that is descriptive [design research, observational] and associative/correlational [interpretive commentary, quasi-experimental]. Original data are being collected on middle school grade 8 inner city urban students in science courses using assessments of learning, observation [personal observation, Web logs], and survey research [semi-structured or informal interview]. Projective reflection with PCaRD will be compared with a similar group of students who did not use projective reflection process.

Instruments or measures being used include semi-structured interviews to collect longitudinal data, logged data in games, and background data from school. For more information see:

  • Hung, D., Lim, S. H., & Jamaludin, A. B. (2011). Social constructivism, projective identity, and learning: case study of nathan. Asia Pacific Education Review, 12, 161-171.
  • Oyserman, D. (2004). Possible selves citations, measure and coding instructions. Institute for Social Research: University of Michigan

Interview narratives will be coded according to content and structure, using combined deductive (i.e., theory-guided) and inductive (i.e., data-guided) analyses. This combines theoretical views of identity along with a data-driven approach to explore identity. Deductive coding will follow the theoretical definitions of the constructs of current selves, possible selves, projective reflection, science knowledge, and motivation for science. Inductive coding will seek meaningful categories in the data that are unique to the context of the game among these particular students.

Log data from the games will also be coded. Identity change will be quantified by coding text from students’ input. Epistemic Network Analysis will be used for analysis - processes the utterances, searching for words and phrases associated with particular elements of a given set of possible selves, science knowledge, and motivation statements related to what they know (Science knowledge); how they think (sense of self); how they see themselves (sense of self); what they care about (motivation – personal valuing; what they want to be – scientists, related areas.}.


Findings will be posted as they become available.

Other Products: 

Teacher professional development materials, new game-based learning techniques to support identity change.

Target Population: 
Research Design: 


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