Affective learning in playful learning environments: Physics outreach challenges

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Issue Date
2011
Authors
Moll, Rachel
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Subject
Affective learning
Complexity thinking
Science outreach programs
Abstract
This field report describes the affective learning experiences of students as they participate in two physics outreach challenges: the Physics Olympics and BC's Brightest Minds amusement park physics competition. Students were interviewed before and after the events and observed closely while they participated, with particular attention paid to the emotions they expressed. The researcher used a complexity thinking perspective to interpret how emotions allow for the emergence of perceived student science identities, which were adaptive and dynamic. Key findings include that experiencing strong emotions such as excitement and disappointment can enhance motivation and learning, and characteristics of the contexts and tasks that promote playful learning were identified. The results of this study contribute to improving the teaching and learning of physics and suggest designing learning environments both within and outside classroom contexts that are challenging and provide feedback so that students' emotions are evoked and expressed. Specific recommendations for designing competitive science outreach environments are also offered.
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