Filling in the Gaps: Gee's 36 Principles

This month I've started (and will continue) to walk through the learning strategies that Gee has focused on in the required reading I used for my guest lecture. While the reading grabs most of the core learning principles (or combines them into broader concepts), there are a few that were not discussed specifically. Throughout the month, I'll highlight a few other of Gee's principles and how we should be using them in information literacy. And so my month of Gee continues...

Active, Critical Learning Principle- All aspects of the learning environment (including the ways in which the semiotic domain is designed and presented) are set up to encourage active and critical, not passive, learning.

It’s a basic learning principle. We learn best through doing. We want to get our students active, engaged, and involved in the practice, testing, and application of the material we are trying to teach. During my student teaching for my Teaching Masters active learning and critical thinking were stressed above all else. It should come as no surprise that games incorporate this since they require the player to actively take part in the action and decision making (at least most games do). I’ve talked about critical thinking in video games before (link) and information literacy and critical thinking go hand in hand.

The success of the application of active learning also includes when it is used. Librarians that teach in a lab may claim they are always using active learning because the students have time at the end to practice the process of research. While this is active, it is not as effective as it should be. Video games include active learning throughout the process; players are constantly doing. Video games (at least most) do not give you 30 – 40 minutes of a instruction before letting the player play. Granted some games do give lengthy tutorials but here brief instruction is immediately followed by practice and active learning. Library instruction would do well to model the tutorial model present in many games

Design Principle- Learning about and coming to appreciate design and design principles is core to the learning experience.

Pedagogically this is more important for us as librarians. Students are aware of lesson design and the experience, but the awareness often happens when there are problems. Students may not be able to define what makes the lesson work, but they can sure tell you when it doesn’t. Gameplay and game design are similar experiences for most players. They may not be able to tell you what “works” about a game, but they can sure tell when it falls apart. If our lessons and sessions are not incorporating good design our students and their learning will struggle to process.


Anonymous said...

Please consider submitting an article to the Active Learning Blog Carnival

To submit for the Dec 07th edition go to and follow the instructions.