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IMC Bootcamp on PLAY AND LEARNING III: the quantitative lenses

Info about event


Tuesday 17 May 2016,  at 09:15 - 17:00


IMC Meeting Room

The topic of the day:

Play is an ambiguous and fleeting human endeavor, sometimes appearing as a brief flash during serious work, and sometimes as a prolonged shared activity mediated by tools, toys or imagination alone.

So how do we study play experiences, as they float into work, learning and social interaction? 

In this bootcamp, we zoom in on the ways play behaviors, play experiences and playful learning, with a special focus on gaming, can be observed through quantitative lenses.

The presenters discuss their work in play and learning research and describe their chosen tools ranging from stealth assessment of games designed for learning to structural equation modeling.

The bootcamp is set up to allow participants to gain an overview and inspiration on the methods discussed in general, as well as playful learning more specifically.




Andreas Lieberoth 


Introduction to the field


David Williamson Shaffer


Quantitative Ethnography 

The ability to teach and assess the development of complex thinking skills is crucial for 21st century educational research. In the age of educational games and the Big Data they generate, we have more information than ever about what students are doing and how they are thinking. But as the sheer volume of data available can overwhelm traditional qualitative and quantitative research methods. 

Quantitative Ethnography is a set of research methods that weave the study of culture together with statistical tools to understand learning — a way to go beyond looking for arbitrary patterns in mountains of data that games and simulations generate and begin telling textured stories at scale. 

This talk provides an overview of the science of Quantitative Ethnography, and a preview of two key tools that researchers can use to assess complex thinking in games and simulations. The first tool is Epistemic Network Analysis, a network modeling technique for modeling learning in Big Datasets. The second is nCoder, which supports the development and validation of codes— both automated codes and interrater reliability in traditional hand coding procedures. 

Juho Hamari & Jonna Koivisto


( juhohamari.com/info;



Structural equation modeling: a method for exploring complex game-play relationships

Psychometric measurement and structural equation modelling are techniques commonly employed in measurement and analysis of latent psychological phenomenon. As play and game experiences are inherently psychological phenomena, these methods afford suitable tools for their study. In this session, we look at the process of conducting research using these methods via practical concrete examples of prior studies done by the presenters. In the session we cover steps including theorizing, operationalizing measurement, building a survey, gathering data, analyzing validity and reliability, analysing data and reporting results. 

Literature reviews on game and play: getting facts straight and framing the field


Jonna Kivisto & Juho Hamari Literature review is a necessary part of nearly every study, and when done systematically, it can not only help conduct empirical studies but also stand-alone comprehensive works. Based on our experiences in conducting systematic review studies, we have developed a clear and structured method for the process. In this session, we look at the method which contains all the steps from defining the research problem, operationalizing and conducting the literature search, coding literature, analysing literature and reporting results. The process will be described through our experiences from conducting and publishing reviews.

Valerie Shute


Stealth assessment in video games

Games can be powerful vehicles to support learning, but their success in education hinges on getting the assessment part right. In this presentation I will explore how games can use stealth assessment to measure and support the learning of critical 21st century competencies (e.g., creativity, problem solving). i plan to discuss what stealth assessment is, why it is important, and how to develop and accomplish it. I will also provide examples within the context of a game called Physics playground that I designed and developed with my team. I'll share what has been learned by recent research on stealth assessment in games, including:

- Does stealth assessment provide valid and reliable estimates of students' developing competencies, including understanding of physics, persistence and creativity?

- Can students actually learn anything as a function of game play?

- are games designed with stealth assessment capabilities still fun??

General information about the Bootcamp format:

Once a month the IMC is organizing a full-day interactive workshop, featuring a hot topic in cognitive neuroscience research.  

Each workshop is one or two days long and open to a small crowd of people (30-40). It is an opportunity to present latest results, but more importantly, thought of as a space to discuss different approaches (e.g. theoretical enquiries, observations, various behavioural data, physiological measures, imaging methodologies) to look at the same phenomena with regard to questions, such as: 

- What are the premises of these methods? What do they actually assess? Which assumptions are made when used to look at the phenomenon of interest? What conceptual implications does that have? How do they inform each other or can they be combined, considering all this, without problems? 

- How do we apply these questions to research involving interacting individuals (n

To allow this, the event is structured as follows:

- The morning starts with an introductory lecture, giving a short and more historical overview and presenting general outstanding questions.  

- Then, 2-3 methodological lectures, each presenting one approach

- Finally, a informal discussion with all participants about questions that have emerged and challenges for future research. Time for talks and discussions is usually almost 50/50. 

Lenses are always chosen for their crossdisciplinary interest, so wether you are an veteran in the field or just curious, the IMC bootcamps are a great place to jump in aided by the foremost international experts in the fields.