Playing as Argument Architects: Bridging a Learning Gap in the Research Process


  • Elizabeth Nelson Penn State University Libraries
  • Brett Spencer Penn State Berks, Thun Library



This article reports on the design process and initial results of a project to create a board game, Argument Architect, that bridges the gap between librarians’ and students’ understanding of research and rhetoric. Some students perceive research as a step-by-step, linear process; in contrast, however, most librarians view it as an iterative, dynamic activity. In order to use Argument Architect as a springboard to a classroom conversation, we designed it to avoid the competitive/destructive nature of most board games in favor of a cooperative/constructive schema that fostered a flowing, playful, and reflective dialog between students and librarians about the “messy” nature of research. We also kept in mind our practical needs, as instruction librarians, for a game with flexibility, scalability, portability, and intuitive play that we could efficiently deploy multiple times in composition classes with different class lengths and assignments. We share details and images of the game in multiple stages of development, student and instructor reactions, and future plans.


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