Low Floors, High Ceilings, Wide Walls –In Your Dungeon: How Games Can HelpSupport Equity and Access in YourClassroom

Keynote Presenter: Ryan Gabriel Windeknecht; Senior Lecturer and OIT Faculty Fellow; Department of Philosophy; University of Tennessee, Knoxville


This presentation demonstrates how tabletop role-playing games can facilitate teaching and learning. Specifically, it takes participants through a “dungeon crawl” (i.e., virtual escape room) that is designed with “low floors” (i.e., allows having low levels of disciplinary knowledge), “high ceilings” (i.e., encourages developing high levels of disciplinary knowledge) and “wide walls” (i.e., permits taking multiple pathways from low to high levels of disciplinary knowledge). In line with this year’s theme, this presentation discusses how such games can help educators create and support equity and access in STEAM education. Assuming an interest in STEAM education, this workshop should appeal to educators, regardless of a familiarity with tabletop role-playing games.


Before the game, participants will be divided into “adventuring parties” (i.e., groups of three to five players) and provided with pre-generated “characters” (i.e., roles to play). Their characters will embody STEAM professions and ethical theories. During the game, participants will be presented with a puzzle that concerns the use of renewable and nonrenewable resources, and, in their adventuring parties, they will explore how their characters should solve the puzzle, given their STEAM professions and ethical theories. After the game, participants will take part in a short debrief and discussion, which will include time for review and reflection, as well as questions and answers about the game. It will conclude with some suggestions for how to design dungeon crawls for STEAM education.

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