Alecia Magnifico is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Educational Psychology. She is broadly interested in subject-specific literacies (science literacy, in her current project), how writing matters to literacy development, and how games can support literacy development. In the past, Alecia has been a teacher, poet, and education policy student. As an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, she balanced her time among studying comprehensive school reform, writing poetry for her creative writing concentration, and working with the Math Forum research group. She then became a classroom teacher, first teaching English literature and drama in England, and later teaching fifth grade and technology in California. Currently, Alecia is working on Science.Net - an epistemic role-playing game - with David Hatfield and David Williamson Shaffer. This project explores how middle school students can learn to write and think like science journalists through role-play. The activities in which gameplayers participate lead them to develop a broader sense of how and why science and technology matter to society, as well as an increased awareness of writing for readers.
Role playing games let players take on new identities and explore new worlds. Here I look at an epistemic role playing game in which students become science journalists. In Science.Net, players interview, research, and compose stories for an online science newsmagazine. Taking on the identity of science journalists, they learn about the science in their community and how diverse members think differently about it.
In this talk, I look at how this identity transformation takes place in Science.Net. I focus on how the work of science journalism - particularly copyediting and rewriting news stories - helps players develop the skills, values, identity, knowledge, and epistemology of the profession of journalism. That is, I look at how Science.Net helps players develop the epistemic frame of journalism. I will present data from two stages of Science.Net gameplay and show how students learn how to think differently about journalism and science from their experiences.