Minecraft in Teacher Education: Developing 21st Century Skills in Social Studies
The long-term aim of our research is to understand how student teachers perceive the value of generic skills in specific subject areas such as Social Studies, through a dialectical interplay of generic- and domain-specific skills practice, exemplified in by children’s building and playing in Minecraft and other block building games.
Minecraft building constructed by teacher education students at OsloMet. Photo: OsloMet
About the project
Our focus in this project is on how both types of skills, generic- and domain-specific, can be practiced in the same lesson and in the same digital learning environment. We address the following research questions:
- What are student teachers' perceptions of Minecraft for learning purposes?
- What are the challenges and opportunities for teachers’ organization of Minecraft lessons into two distinct activities: generic- and domain specific skills- and knowledge practices?
Student teachers are first introduced to Minecraft as a tool. Part of the Social Studies subject curriculum for middle and lower secondary education in Norway (grades 5 to 10) in Minecraft is then implemented in initial teacher education. By leveraging Minecraft’s affordances for building and roleplaying, we aim to create a digital learning environment that supports aspects of generic and domain specific skills practice in combination.
The study is organized as an experimental teaching activity between two educational institutions in Norway (A and B) over a three-week period. Institution A provided educational resources (MA students majoring in general education act as tutors) and institution B (student teachers majoring in Social Studies) will carry out a joint learning activity defined by an assignment created by institution B. The assignment will be grounded in a specific topic in Social Studies such as creating a model of the Norwegian parliament building or and industrialised area in Oslo and to engage in collaborative learning through role-play. Thus, we aim that the students acquire technical skills in using Minecraft in creative mode, detailed knowledge about the building and how the physical structures that reflect the era and society. The role plays were recorded by using a video-capture tool.
A questionnaire informed by our research questions as well as interviews are then conducted with the students.
The student teachers at Institution B then introduce Minecraft to a middle school classroom.
Mørch, A.I., Mifsud, L., & Eie, S. (2019). Developing a Model of Collaborative Learning with Minecraft for Social Studies Classrooms using Role-play Theory and Practice. Proceedings of CSCL 2019: International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, Lyon, France, June 17-21, In press. PDF
Mørch, A.I., Eie, S., & Mifsud, L. (2018). Tradeoffs in combining domain-specific and generic skills’ practice in Minecraft in social studies in teacher education. Proc. CoPDA 2018 (pp. 44-52), Castiglione della Pescaia, Italy, May 29, 2018 (published at http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-2101/). URL