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Krista Harper

Professor, Anthropology and the School of Public Policy

Winter 2018 Innovation Fellow

Fellow Project & Instructional Interests

Krista Harper plans to develop expertise on game-based learning and host a workshop on “Engaging students in the social sciences through game-based learning” at the UMass Amherst campus in Fall 2018. Harper’s project grows out of her scholarship on participatory visual and digital research and her interest in active learning pedagogies. Game-based learning is a growing movement in higher education pedagogy, from the award-winning “Reacting to the Past” historical role-playing curriculum to the realm of digital “serious games” and “games for change” that help players to understand complex economic models or political processes as they navigate decisions. These techniques are being used at the top universities around the country, including MIT and Harvard. Game-based learning, at its most effective, moves beyond “edutainment” and the “gamification” of learning goals, to encourage students to develop systems thinking, empathy, and perspective taking—all key critical thinking capabilities essential for the social sciences. Specific outcomes of Harper’s project will include co-organizing a game-based learning community of practice at UMass, teaching an undergraduate course on “Anthropology of/through Games,” and organizing a one-day workshop for UMass faculty, TAs, librarians, and instructional design staff on game design and game-based pedagogy. Take a look at Harper’s scholarly writing examples.