Math in Minecraft: Changes in Students’ Mathematical Identities When Overcoming In-Game Challenges

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This paper presents empirical findings from a qualitative study that uses Minecraft as a mathematical tool and learning environment. Even though Minecraft has been used for several years in classrooms all over the world, there is a lack of detailed empirical studies of what subject-related content students can learn by working with the game. The study is based on a teaching unit for 5th grade, which focused on using the coordinate system already embedded in Minecraft as a means
of navigating and exploring the game in order to solve mathematical problems. Based on a design experiment with the teaching unit, we explore the following research question: How do 5th grade students experience a change in their mathematical identities when they participate in an inquiry-based teaching unit with Minecraft? A thematic analysis explore data from six group interviews. The theoretical perspectives used in the coding of data were based on domain theory and an interpretive framework for understanding students’ mathematical identity. The key analytical findings regard the students’ experience of the coordinate system as part of both the academic domain of mathematics and as a part of their everyday domain playing Minecraft, how students actively use the coordinate system to improve play in Minecraft, and how students experience new ways of participating in mathematics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th International Conference on Game Based Learning, ECGBL 2019
EditorsLars Elbaek, Gunver Majgaard, Andrea Valente, Saifuddin Khalid
Number of pages8
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)978-1-912764-38-9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-912764-37-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event13th European Conference on Games-Based Learning 2019 - Odense, Denmark
Duration: 3 Oct 20194 Oct 2019


Conference13th European Conference on Games-Based Learning 2019
SeriesProceedings of the European Conference on Games-based Learning


  • Coordinate system
  • Domain theory
  • Mathematics education
  • Minecraft
  • Student identity


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