Category Archives: Design

Congratulations Jennifer Jing Zhao!

Congratulations Jennifer Jing Zhao, for a successful defence and completion of the PhD program!

Tuesday September 24, 2019, 4:00 pm
Room 200 of the Graduate Student Centre (6371 Crescent Road)

Design of a 3D Virtual Learning Environment for Acquisition of Cultural Competence in Nurse Education: Experiences of Nursing and Other Health Care Students, Instructors, and Instructional Designers

ABSTRACT: This study investigates how a 3D virtual world or learning environment facilitates nursing and other health care students’ acquisition of cultural competence. The study specifically explores the experience of students, instructors, and instructional designers in a 3D virtual learning environment designed specifically for this research. The research questions are: 1) What are the experiences of instructional designers and instructors in a simulated immersive learning environment of a 3D virtual world for the acquisition of cultural competence for students in nursing and other health related fields? 2) What are the experiences of students in a simulated immersive learning environment of a 3D virtual world for the acquisition of cultural competence? The design of the 3D world and analysis of data draw on a framework based on Deweyan and Confucian theories of experience. The theoretical framework suggests that learning is best supported through affordances for continuity and interaction, which are essential when designing, integrating, and evaluating simulation and immersion in 3D virtual worlds. Design-based research (DBR) and user experience (UX) methodologies are employed to explore the experience of students, instructors, and other participants. A taxonomy of experience (ToE) established by Coxon (2007) guides qualitative data collection and analysis in this study. Users’ data were distilled through nine steps to help experiences to be “seen” and to make abstract concepts comprehensible and visible. The findings include seven themes distilled from the data: Simulation for 3D learning environments is best: 1) grounded in real-world contexts; 2) shaped through holistic design; 3) designed for embodiment; 4) designed for interactivity; and 5) designed for continuous experience; 6) 3D learning environments should take the complexity of the technical interface into account; and 7) Design for the acquisition of cultural competence should take the users’ experience and knowledge into account. Implications include: 1) Conceptualization of “designer as host” and hospitality through Chinese understandings of guest-host relations; 2) Consideration of virtual experience overlooked within Deweyan and Confucian pragmatism.


Prof Guofang Li (Language and Literacy Education)
Supervisory Committee:
Prof Stephen Petrina, Research Supervisor
Prof Hsiao-Cheng Sandrine Han
Prof Francis Feng
University Examiners:
Prof Marlene Asselin
Prof Samson Nashon

Invitation to Mirela Gutica’s PhD Defense


Mirela Gutica

Abstract: Emotional, cognitive, and motivational processes are dynamic and influence each other during learning. The goal of this dissertation is to gain a better understanding of emotion interaction in order to design Advanced Learning Technologies (ALTs) and Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) that adapt to emotional needs. In order for ITSs to recognize and respond to affective states, the system needs to have knowledge of learners’ behaviors and states. Based on emotion frameworks in affective computing and education, this study responds to this need by providing an in-depth analysis of students’ affective states during learning with an educational mathematics game for grade 5-7 (Heroes of Math Island) specifically designed for this research study and based on principles of instructional and game design.

The mixed methodology research design had two components: (1) a quasi-experimental study and (2) affect analysis. The quasi-experimental study included pretest, intervention (gameplay), and posttest, followed by a post-questionnaire and interview. Affect analysis involved the process of identifying what emotions should be observed, and video annotations by trained judges.

The study contributes to related research by: (1) reviewing sets of emotions important for learning derived from literature and pilot studies; (2) analyzing inter-judge agreement both aggregated and over individual students to gain a better understanding of how individual differences in expression affect emotion recognition; (3) examining in detail what and how many emotions actually occur or are expressed in the standard 20-second interval; (4) designing a standard method including a protocol and an instrument for trained judges; and (5) offering an in-depth exploration of the students’ subjective reactions with respect to gameplay and the mathematics content. This study analyzes and proposes an original set of emotions derived from literature and observations during gameplay. The most relevant emotions identified were boredom, confidence, confusion/hesitancy, delight/pleasure, disappointment / displeasure, engaged concentration, and frustration. Further research on this set is recommended for design of ALTs or ITSs that motivate students and respond to their cognitive and emotional needs. The methodological protocol developed to label and analyze emotions should be evaluated and tested in future studies.

When: March 17, 2014 @ 9:00 am
Where: Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, UBC

STEM 2014 conference Call for Papers

The University of British Columbia is hosting the 3rd International STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education Conference on its Vancouver campus in July 2014.  The Call for Papers is posted below and the submission deadline is December 9, 2013.

We hope those of you engaged in STEM Education will submit a proposal to present: detailed information on the submission process is on the STEM 2014 website.  Your assistance in sharing the Call for Papers with colleagues and networks would be greatly appreciated.


STEM 2014 Conference | July 12-15
The University of British Columbia | Vancouver, Canada

STEM Education and Our Planet:
Making Connections Across Contexts

 The International Conference of STEM in Education is an opportunity for educators and researchers from schools, universities, colleges, businesses, industries and other private and public agencies to share and discuss their innovative practices and research initiatives that may advance STEM education.

The conference will create opportunities for sharing:

  • information and knowledge through keynote addresses from world leaders in STEM education, papers, poster presentations, panels, workshops, symposia, and innovative showcases;
  • effective STEM pedagogical practices and strategies in and across a variety of education settings;
  • the most contemporary STEM research initiatives and their outcomes;
  • professional development approaches for STEM educators in a range of educational contexts;
  • experiences and networking between participants from across the globe.

Join us in the summer of 2014 at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver.  Submit your proposal to present at the STEM 2014 Conference at  Call for Papers closes December 9, 2013.

We invite proposals from educators, academics, education officers, industry partners, graduate and undergraduate students for papers, poster presentations, panels, workshops, symposia, and innovative showcases.  Proposals will be peer reviewed, and are invited in any area related to the overall focus of the conference, including:

  • Innovation in STEM Research
  • Innovative Resources for STEM Education
  • Transformation in Educational Practices through STEM
  • Sustainability Education and STEM
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches to Popular Science Education
  • Life-long learning in STEM
  • STEM learning in and across formal and informal contexts
  • Curriculum Theory and Development in STEM
  • Educational Philosophy and Theory about STEM
  • Educational Policy, Leadership and Management for STEM
  • Rural Education and STEM
  • Special Education and STEM
  • Educational Technology in STEM
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development in STEM
  • Design and Technology Education
  • Science Fiction and STEM Education
  • Disasters and STEM Education
  • Other related STEM topics will also be considered

Presenters whose papers are accepted for the Conference will be invited to submit their full papers to be published in the peer-reviewed online STEM 2014 Conference Proceedings. Author guidelines are available on the conference website.

Designing Engaging Educational Games: An Identification of Emotions for Modeling Pedagogical and Adaptive Emotional Agents: Statement of the Problem

The problem of my study is to identify learners’ emotional states triggered for or during gameplay.  This research will contribute to our understanding of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs), educational gaming software, and learning.  The goal of this study is to provide critical information needed for emotional design with a focus on exploring and understanding emotions during educational game play.  Understanding emotional responses in human-computer interaction is extremely timely and relevant for teaching and learning in digital environments.

In recent years, ITSs and game-based learning environments have attracted interest as technologies that harness motivation and support learning. Research has focused not only on the cognitive aspects of interaction, but also on affect recognition and response. There is increasing evidence that, in order to design an intelligent and responsive tutor, the learner’s emotions should be properly identified (Conati, Probabilistic Assessment of User’s Emotions in Educational Games, 2002; D’Mello, Taylor, & Graesser, 2007).

Designing Engaging Educational Games: An Identification of Emotions for Modeling Pedagogical and Adaptive Emotional Agents: Short Description

My dissertation research builds on my Masters thesis, has been ongoing in various stages for the past three years and is part of a larger project and lab mobilized around How We Learn (Media and Technology Across the Lifespan) within the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at UBC.  The HWL lab, funded through various agencies including the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), sponsors and supports a range of undergraduate, MA, MEd, and PhD research theses.  My study has been designed and conducted in close collaboration with Dr. Stephen Petrina and the graduate team of
researchers assembled in the HWL.

The Heroes of Math Island game employs principles from computer science,  learning, emotion, and game theory.  The game is implemented on an XNA professional gaming platform (a runtime environment provided by Microsoft) that allows for implementation of rich game mechanics and uses heuristics and semiotics from the gaming field: achievements, avatars, characters, levels of difficulty and quests.  The game has a narrative and activities happening
on an island employing as a central site a castle where students get “quests”
from a king or queen.  Similar to Rodrigo et al. (2012), the Heroes of Math Island game has an agent (the monkey) that uses emotional expressions to respond to situations in the game.

This study will provide critical information about emotional design methodologies with a focus on exploring and understanding emotions during educational game play.  Understanding emotional responses in human-computer interaction is extremely timely and relevant for teaching and learning in digital environments.

Resarch questions:

  • What affective states are important with respect to student’s interaction with an educational game?
  • What affective states are elicited during the Heroes of Math Island game play?
  • What are students’ levels of interest and achievement in the mathematics content areas after gameplay?
  • What are the students’ subjective reactions with respect to Heroes of Math Island game and to the underline mathematical content?

The game has a mathematical content (students solve 3 activities: divisibility, prime numbers and de-composition); however the focus is on design of technology and on the affective interaction and response.

Experiments were conducted by me and three BCIT students who were knowledgeable with respect to this study and involved in the design and implementation of the game.


Research Questions

Questions I am investigating in my dissertation:

  1. How do girls, through their artifact making and designerly practices, story themselves and contribute to technology culture (i.e., what kinds of stories do girls make and tell about girlhood in-interaction-with/against technology)?
  2. What are the impacts and effects of adopting designerly roles (i.e., game designer, media producer, robotics engineer) in terms of developing girls’ ability, confidence, interest, and participation in technology?

Learning : : Thinkering : : Mattering @ 101 Technology Fun—
Girls Designing Games, Media, Robots, Selves & Culture

(working abstract, your feedback is most welcome)

Recent advances in digital media and technology have led to breakthroughs in communication, education, entertainment, health, and learning. Today’s girls, the most avid technology users of any generation, now have widespread access to the most ubiquitous productivity tools in human history. With unprecedented opportunities to live better lives and realize their fullest potential, it is an exciting time for girls to be alive! And yet, despite all the liberating possibilities, many girls are distancing themselves from technology fields, careers, symbolism, and ideologies. Academic and industry research from the past thirty years documents that females continue to be under-represented in technology-related studies and professions, especially the industries that design and develop new technological innovations. How might we empower girls with the confidence, literacies, and tools that are necessary to benefit from and fully participate in advancing our increasingly mediated and technologically dependent society?

My dissertation begins with the premise that engaging girls with hands-on, heads-on, hearts-on, and feet-on experiences as designers and researchers of technology can be personally and culturally transformative in pro-feminist, pro-social, and empowering ways, rather than simply reproducing existing gender and generational roles. 29 co-researchers (girls ages 9-13) and I work closely with UBC faculty, graduate students, and teacher candidates at 101 Technology Fun, a series of intensive research camps offering designerly learning experiences in gaming, media, and robotics for middle school girls. Utilizing creative and participatory approaches to data collection, including design thinking challenges, iLife diaries, and ME documentaries, my study examines: How do girls story themselves through their artifact making and designerly practices? How are diverse cultural constructions of technology adopted, rejected, and remade by girls? What are the impacts and effects of adopting designerly roles in terms of developing girls’ agency, capability, interest, and participation in technology? Analysis of co-researchers’ artifacts, designerly practices, and research reflections are integrated with theoretical and empirical understandings to contribute a working portrait of how contemporary girlhood is constructed in-interaction-with/against technology and stories. Highlighting the need for girls’ voices to be recognized and given influence in educational research, this study exposes some of the gendered risks and opportunities, generational barriers, technical ingenuity, and transformative learning that girls articulate and reflect upon as they design and share artifacts and stories. Findings call for increasing girls’ agency and capability to participate as the designers and innovators of technology such that they can experience or effect more equitable and sustainable technology futures.


Ways of Worlding

My working definition for designerly ways of “worlding” in how we learn connotes an immersive process of deeply embedding design methodology into teaching and learning environments —whereby creativity and design thinking are means of empowerment and transformation— to synergistically connect learners, technologies, ideas and opportunities together to make informed change; to nurture students’ natural desire to design and innovate; and to build sustainable learning futures that have meaning and quality of life for all.

“Learners” are understood as systems thinkers assembling what assembles a world (HWL, 2010); “designerly ways” as how designers think, act, play, be, feel and work; and “worlding” as mindful participation in unfolding worlds within worlds —where world refers to the natural, social, material, virtual or spiritual world, or lifeworld—  necessarily recognizing the interdependence of humanity with the more-than-human worlds that we are in and part of (Abram, 1996). Hence, “designerly ways of worlding” denotes learning through design (of things, events, solutions, communities, identities, futures, etc.) within a supportive community of practice and a range of meaningful contexts in which learners have productive agency to co-create the worlds in and around them (i.e., their design thinking and designerly ways matter) —with intent for developing a sustainable citizenship that joins learning to living in right reciprocal relationships to the worlds of others (and things).

Designerly ways of worlding prepares learners to become “world builders” or leaders of change who take initiative to solve complex problems (including education, health, quality of life, and environment) using design thinking in- interaction- with -technology- and- stories. Learners are actively engaged, individually and collectively, in a design cycle of questioning, investigating, prototyping, evaluating and refining —an iterative feedback loop from which new knowledge grows out of, resolves, and creates design challenges.

Encouraging experimentation, sensible risk taking and moderate uncertainty (as in the process of design) offers potential for: (1) “unshackling the conditioning forces” (Arendt, 1958) that prevent learners from seeing beyond the status quo; (2) practicing a worldy criticism that doubts and challenges what is taken for granted; and (3) developing better informed and more meaningful relationships between selves, others and things.

Designerly ways of worlding in how we learn deeply integrates:
knowing (with doubt and discernment)
as doing
(by experimentation and invention)
as being
(creating and questioning)
as having
(awareness and foresight)
as emoting (openness and sensitivity to difference)
as playing (with freedom and imagination)
as essential to inspire renewal of wonder, possibility and responsibility.

Go Font Yourself #2

One of my #1 websites to visit for designerly inspiration is:

Here are a few of my favourite typography art works!

Beauty by mrgraphicsguy

Far away from myself
Beauty is hard to discover
It’s a lie.

gun by mou5e
Education is the most powerful weapon

Got a Light by DesertViper

En Masse by clockblock

Don’t worry. You will be alright. I am here to help you. Everything will be ok. We will get through this. I will never leave you. Don’t give up. I am here for you always. You are not alone. I will protect you. I understand you…

The Raven by swordfishll

The complete text of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem.

What Lies Within by um0p3pisdn

Emerson’s: “What lies before us, and what lies behind us, is nothing compared to what lies within us.”

I Speak Alone by Gordorca

As soon as I open my mouth to speak of any of this…
… My words just crumble as they leave me… Never ever to reach you…

Go Font Yourself!

Designerly Assignment #1: Go font yourself!

Take typographical elements (such as the words of a story or a favourite quotation) and bring them to life using “Artext” to reinforce and emphasize the meaning-making potential of your images. For example:


Check out this Pepsi TV ad using mainly typographic elements with animation, warm colors and upbeat music – connecting feel-good and energizing messages with the brand’s new logo replacing the letter “O.”

WhatTheFont for iPhone is a must have app for all my fellow typophiles (type geeks & obsessive font lovers). Get out your iPhone, snap a photo sample of the type in question (from a magazine, poster, web, etc), and the font will be identified in seconds. So far, I’ve found this app to be quick and fairly accurate. I recommend spending a couple minutes in Photoshop to lighten or remove the background noise and increase the contrast. What are you waiting for: get off my blog and go What The Font!

Designerly Ways of Theorizing

Here’s an attempt to visually theorize designerly learning environments as dynamically assembling in-interaction-with ways of knowing as doing as being as having as playing as emoting as worlding as ? (a wildcard to expand the space of the possible). Definitions are in development for the thoughtfully selected gerunds, which I believe represent the most important elements to attend to in designing learning environments.

Where’s teaching? It’s the innovative pedagogical practice of the theoretical diagram you are looking upon.

What’s learning? Learning is adaptation, assemblage or growth along a trajectory of participation that is recursively and radically in relation to knowing as doing as being as having as playing as emoting as worlding as ?-ing within a rich reality, complex and techno-cultural system.

Why discourses of power and labour? It is important to consider how designerly learning environments are created and perpetuated through discourses of power and labour (refer to the green arrows) as mediated by subjects, objects and artifacts, in-interaction-with ways of knowing, being, having, playing, emoting, worlding and ?-ing…