Thomas Christopherson
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Biography coming soon.


This presentation explores how video game design can provide social science researchers with a powerful method for testing theory adequacy and interdependence, outlining our effort to bring the principles of game design and play into the world of school leadership in the form of the Instructional Leadership Game (ILG). We take theories of school improvement and school leadership as a subset of social science theories in order to investigate how videogames might test social science theory adequacy and reliability. The ILG provides a research-driven context for leaders to see the short- and long-term consequences of trying out new strategies, engaging in the politics of leadership, and practicing the micro-tasks of teacher evaluation and supervision.

We begin by reviewing the ILG game design by describing how we operationalized key theoretical components of teacher evaluation practices into a game-play interface. We found that each aspect of the component theory was radically underspecified and that we needed to engage in interviews and basic research in schools to understand how the theories would play out in practice. Assembling the model involved extensive user-testing to insure that the designed process actually represented authentic practices. Then we discuss the implications for video-game design as a tool for vetting existing school improvement theories and speculate on the next-generation of theory development that might result from game-modeled research.

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