Relating narrative, inquiry, and inscriptions: Supporting consequential play

Sasha A. Barab, Troy D. Sadler, Conan Heiselt, Daniel Hickey, Steven Zuiker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Scopus citations


In this paper we describe our research using a multi-user virtual environment, Quest Atlantis, to embed fourth grade students in an aquatic habitat simulation. Specifically targeted towards engaging students in a rich inquiry investigation, we layered a socio-scientific narrative and an interactive rule set into a multi-user virtual environment gaming engine to establish a virtual world through which students learned about science inquiry, water quality concepts, and the challenges in balancing scientific and socio-economic factors. Overall, students were clearly engaged, participated in rich scientific discourse, submitted quality work, and learned science content. Further, through participation in this narrative, students developed a rich perceptual, conceptual, and ethical understanding of science. This study suggests that multi-user virtual worlds can be effectively leveraged to support academic content learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-82
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Consequential play
  • Educational games
  • Inscriptions
  • Simulations
  • Socio-scientific inquiry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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