“This is a Zombie Apocalypse – it’s an Entirely Different Situation.” Teachers’ Deductive and Inductive Framing of Digital Games in Ethics Education





Digital Game-Based Learning, Digital Game-Based Teaching, Framing, Instruction, Deduction, Induction, Ethics, Education, Dialogue, gamevironments


This article investigates teachers’ instructional strategies when using The Walking Dead (2012) in ethics education, in a course intended to teach students how to use ethical theories like deontology and utilitarianism as a basis for their own moral reasoning. By analyzing audio and video data from several teachers’ classes, the study has identified two main instructional strategies, labeled deductive and inductive framing. The former sees class discussions carefully staged by the teacher in a manner that gives a good overview of the game’s dilemmas, and with ethical theories being foregrounded as general principles through which the dilemmas are discussed. Inductive framing, inversely, starts with discussing the particularities of the dilemmas, and with teachers asking open-ended questions that can be answered in either a curricular or an everyday manner. Analysis indicates that deductive framing is useful when students have yet to fully appropriate the ethical theories, whereas inductive framing often leads to confusion and unfocused classroom discourse. However, inductive is well suited for when students have made the ethical theories their own, as it affords them an opportunity to think in a critical and independent manner, without too much reliance on the teacher’s guidance and instruction. The paper concludes that a combination of the two instructional strategies can be a fruitful approach for teachers wishing to use digital games in ethics education.

Author Biography

  • Tobias Staaby, University of Bergen

    Tobias Staaby is a PhD candidate at the University of Bergen, Department of information- and media studies in Bergen, Norway. His dissertation investigates how teachers are using digital games as a resource in their curricular design, and as a tool for dialogic teaching. Before starting his PhD, Staaby worked as a teacher and as advisor on games and learning for several years. His other work includes book chapters, teacher guides, papers and other publications on games and learning, and numerous talks both in Norway and abroad. His most recent work includes co-writing a book on games and learning aimed at Norwegian teachers, teacher educators and students.