PhD Defense by Aditya Anupam

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THESIS DEFENSE – Aditya Anupam


Date, Time, and Location: 

Thursday, Nov 4th at 12 noon ET.

Link: https://bluejeans.com/7729566428



Situated at a Distance: A Framework for Teaching Reflexive Inquiry through Digital Games


Committee Members: 

Dr. Nassim Parvin, Georgia Tech (chair)

Dr. Janet Murray, Georgia Tech

Dr. Anne Sullivan, Georgia Tech

Dr. Donna Riley, Purdue University



As science and technology (technoscience) grow increasingly complicit in systemic injustice, there is an urgent need for practitioners to conduct scientific inquiry as a reflexive process. Reflexivity in technoscience entails critically examining how one’s position in material, political, and cultural structures of practice relates to their process of scientific inquiry. For example, it can involve examining how one’s position as a researcher at a large for-profit corporation affects their framing of research problems. Teaching scientific inquiry as a reflexive process is necessary as it enables one to understand how values and assumptions permeate their inquiry, and how one’s positionality can embody, employ, or transform them. However, teaching it is a paradoxical challenge: it requires students to be positioned in the structures of practice, while also at a distance from them. Being positioned in practice is necessary because the structures of practice differ significantly from those of education. Simultaneously, being at a distance is also necessary because those structures can often bind one’s approach to inquiry according to shared cultural norms. This raises two research problems: How do we design educational environments that position students in practice, at a distance? How can these environments support inquiry as a reflexive process?


This dissertation develops a two-part hypothesis to approach these research questions: a framework for designing environments that support reflexive inquiry, and digital games as a medium that can embody the framework. First, I draw upon feminist STS and pragmatist scholarship to propose a framework that brings one’s positionality in structures of distribution, power, and culture into relation with the process of inquiry. The framework explores positionality in four ways: as one’s means, status, culture, and experience and brings them into relation with three processes of inquiry: problematizing, hypothesizing-experimenting, and resolving. By providing a systematic means of examining positionality and inquiry, the framework can function both as an analytical tool as well as a design space for educational environments that aim to teach scientific inquiry as a reflexive process. Second, I hypothesize that digital games can be an effective medium for reifying the framework and teaching reflexive inquiry because they can simulate the structures of practice, the position of practitioners in them, and the processes of inquiry they can do in relation to those positions, all while distancing students from real practice. I investigate this potential of digital games by employing the framework to conduct case studies and design-based inquiry into multiple digital games. This process demonstrated how the framework can be a source of design possibilities for approaching the two research questions. Simultaneously, it also surfaced key strengths and constraints of digital games as environments to support inquiry as a reflexive process. In conclusion, I suggest directions for how the framework can be employed more generally for science education and how digital games can be complemented for teaching reflexive inquiry.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Tatianna Richardson
  • Created:10/28/2021
  • Modified By:Tatianna Richardson
  • Modified:10/28/2021