Virtual worlds, conceptual understanding, and me: Designing for consequential engagement

Melissa Gresalfi, Sasha Barab, Sinem Siyahhan, Tyler Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Purpose - This paper aims to advance the idea of consequential engagement, positioning it as a necessary complement to the more common practices of supporting procedural or conceptual engagement. More than a theoretical argument, this notion is grounded in examples from the authors' work in enlisting game-based methodologies and technologies for supporting such engagement. Design/methodology/approach - Through the presentation of two example designs, an elementary statistics curriculum and an undergraduate educational psychology course, the paper attends to the potential of narratively-rich, multi-user virtual environments for positioning students to critically engage academic content. In particular, it discusses the importance of designing spaces that afford opportunities to understand and apply disciplinary concepts in making sense of, and potentially transforming, conceptually-revealing scenarios. Findings - The paper discusses the role of consequential engagement in supporting meaningful procedural and conceptual engagement, and the potential of these designed spaces for positioning learners to develop an appreciation both of the power of the conceptual tools they engage, and of themselves and their peers as people who use these tools. Originality/value - This paper proposes a framework for design that can be applied to both real and virtual learning environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages14
JournalOn the Horizon
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Information retrieval
  • Internet
  • Learning
  • Students
  • User studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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