Argument Architect: Creating an Information Literacy Board Game about Thesis Development

Your Name and Title: Elizabeth Nelson, Reference and Instruction Librarian

Library, School, or Organization Name: Penn State University Libraries

Co-Presenter Name(s): Brett Spencer, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Penn State University Libraries

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Pennsylvania, USA

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s): Librarians interested in teaching information literacy or research skills via gamified activities

Short Session Description (one line): This session will introduce an instructional game created by librarians to teach thesis development and source selection, put that individual game into a larger context in terms of gamified instruction, and invite participants to share input, ideas, or experiences with gamification, particularly as it relates to information literacy instruction.

Full Session Description (as long as you would like): Our students often struggle with the concept of the research process, investing in thesis statements before exploring their topics or choosing sources that parrot their arguments, rather than supporting them. As librarians, we often struggle with how to communicate to our students the value of the research process and its context in undergraduate work.  Because of the abstract nature of many of the concepts involved, an instructional design approach that utilizes a board game with physical elements and a well-known analogy offers one possible approach to making the research process more concrete for students.

Argument Architect, a board game developed by librarians at two Penn State campus libraries, attempts to frame thesis development and source selection within the analogy of skyscraper construction and challenges students to build the strongest arguments possible from the materials at hand. This presentation will discuss the philosophy behind gamification, outline the choices made in the game’s development, discuss the testing of the prototype, review assessment materials from game sessions with first-year students, and introduce concepts being explored for future companion games. We will provide opportunities for participants to offer their feedback and share their experiences with developing information literacy games. As a bonus, each participant will receive a “Jumpstart Worksheet”, a concise set of questions arising from the authors’ experiences that participants can consider when brainstorming board games of their own.

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session: N/A

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