Len Annetta

Taft Distinguished Professor of Science Education | East Carolina University

As the Taft Distinguished Professor of Science Education at East Carolina University, Dr. Annetta’s research has focused on distance learning and the effect of Serious Educational Games on science learning of teachers and students in underserved populations. He has been awarded over $8 million for his research to date and has won numerous awards and honors for his work.

Understanding the popularity of online, multiuser video game play, Dr. Annetta has been very successful with securing external funding to support his work on distance learning and the use of Serious Educational Games as a vehicle for learning STEM content and STEM career awareness. In 2008, he was honored with three awards for his extension work teaching K-12 teachers and students’ video game design and creation. These awards were progressive from the College of Education Outstanding Extension Service Award, to the induction into the NC State University Academy of Outstanding Faculty Engaged in Extension to the Distinguished Alumni Engaged in Extension and Outreach award. Moreover, Dr. Annetta has twice been awarded the National Technology Leadership Initiative Fellowship in Science Education and Technology from the Association of Science Teacher Education and the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education. He has thrice been invited to the National Science and Engineering Festival as one of the top 50 speakers in STEM.


Talk Description:

How Serious Educational Game Design and Development Affect Creativity on High School Students

Through 7 years of funding from the National Science Foundation ITEST program, this talk will provide an overview of the student populations impacted by teaching them how to design and create Serious Educational Games to learn and teach scientific concepts. It has long been argued that with the advent of standardized testing, students have become somewhat robotic in their thinking and problem solving skills. The three funded projects set out to teach students how to think laterally through a proprietary game creation software package.

Students were taught the scientific principles behind renewable and reusable energy. How these concepts aligned with the science standards at both the national and state level was the focus of the model. We asked students to become the teacher. To plan and develop an educational experience, through a game, where they could teach their peers. Previous work suggested the best way to learn was having students teach the subject. Students struggled to think non-linearly.

Creativity is the production of the new, original, unique, and divergent products and ideas mediated through lateral thinking. Evidence suggests that high levels of creativity and fluency are important in the continued development of student interest, efficacy and ultimately career impact in the sciences. In this study, 559 randomly selected students attended an eight-month long workshop on science-based Serious Educational Game design and development as a learning tool in the classroom. Prior to and upon completion of the workshop, all students were given the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking to aid in the development of understanding of the relationship between creativity and related constructs. The authors also explore the implications of the role of lateral thinking as a cognitive system mediating science learning. Results suggest a statistically significant difference exists between pretest and posttest outcomes and that the data confirms the suggested model for the role of creative.

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