Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding gender, context and game culture for the development of equitable digital games as learning environments
by Richard, Gabriela T., Ph.D., New York University, 2014, 317; 3613485
Abstract (Summary)

The study proposes that in order to design educational games that address equitable learning outcomes, we need to understand contextual factors that can have differential effects on achievement across gender, ethnicity, culture and sexuality. Research on social identity formation, stereotype threat, school climate and the digital identity divide all underscore the importance of social context in shaping identification with, as well as confidence and performance in learning content areas, particularly math, science and technology (which includes computers and gaming). Past literature highlights that females and ethnic minorities are the most vulnerable to bias and negative stereotypes in these domains. Gender and its intersections with ethnicity and sexuality were investigated in game culture through an exploratory mixed-methods study. It consisted of a multi-year ethnography of online gaming activities in the greater gaming culture and a female-supportive online gaming community (with members across gender), as well as surveys developed from ethnographic themes. Ethnographic findings confirm that harassment is a pervasive gatekeeping practice that particularly targets and affects females and ethnic minorities in game culture and leads to silencing and marginalizing female game play; female gamers continuously wrestle with competing gendered expectations that undermined their play, particularly in co-ed environments, though also in female-supportive ones; and the female-oriented "clan" creates learning opportunities and access to female role models (that defy stereotypes) in ways that help level the playing field. Survey results demonstrate that stereotype threat, which has implications for learning and long-term outcomes through lowered confidence, performance and interest in a domain, can occur in game culture, and that females and ethnic minorities are statistically significantly more vulnerable to it. However, latent internalized gender schema (or one's internalized sense of masculinity or femininity) significantly interacts with vulnerability. Male and female members of a female-supportive clan scored significantly higher in their gaming identification and self-concept, and females of that clan were more likely to play frequently online, helping to demonstrate the positive role of supportive communities in mitigating the potential negative effects of bias and stereotype threat. The dissertation further makes recommendations for the design of efficacious and equitable educational games and learning environments.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hoadley, Christopher M.
Commitee: Ali, Alisha N., Plass, Jan L.
School: New York University
Department: Administration, Leadership, and Technology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Communication, Mass communications, Educational technology
Keywords: Game-based learning, Gaming communities, Gender, Online gaming, Race, Stereotype threat
Publication Number: 3613485
ISBN: 978-1-303-76443-1
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