Stephen Petrina


Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (2008-2018)
Designing technotheologies : ethics, pedagogies, and spiritualities in maker actor-networks (2017)

The purpose of this study was to understand how religion and spirituality matter in the consumer use, design, and engineering of media and technology. Specifically, the research questions were: 1) What role do ethics and values perform in maker and hacker networks? 2) How are ethics and values integrated and manifested throughout the design process in maker or hacker networks? 3) What are the routines, rituals, and subjective well-being of participants in the maker or hacker design process? The research setting was the designers in the maker community in Vancouver and technologists associated with Code for the Kingdom in Seattle. All designers and technologists in Vancouver and Seattle have independent projects at various levels of collaboration. I recruited seven participants affiliated with the Vancouver maker community for in-depth analysis of their design process. In Seattle, I recruited two hackers who participated in Code for the Kingdom, a Christian organization that hosts hackathons for altruistic and religious purposes. Their focus on innovation, design methodologies, and critical making allowed me to discern their values and ethics through their design process. These participants have different perspectives on religion and spirituality, which make their technotheological networks complex. Case studies facilitated in-depth examination of makers and hackers as the main actors of our inquiry. The use of video in dialogue with ethnographic inquiry allowed for nuance, discerning complexities, and giving form to expression in designing technotheologies. Conceptually, the research is framed by actor-network theory (ANT) and value sensitive design (VSD), enabling the study of how participants discover, design artifacts, make meaning, develop values, and maintain a sense of the good life and well-being, emotional and spiritual. Findings indicate that among the makers and hackers, technotheological networks articulate specific values alongside technological creations, practices, and personal ways of being. In their own unique ways, these makers and hackers inquire into the materialized morality and design phases of ethically responsible decision making processes. Conversely, the non-human actors express their own values within technotheological networks. My role as a techno-theologian helped facilitate competing value claims by positing a normative focus and by temporarily opening black boxes.

Sharing is caring : prosocial behaviours, theory of mind, and media and technology in early childhood education (2017)

This empirical study investigated the manifestation of prosocial sharing behaviours and how this interplayed with preschool-aged children’s Theory of Mind (ToM), described in cognitive science as one’s ability to ascribe mental states to others and how the ascribed states are used to explain and predict the actions of others, when using media and technology (M&T), i.e., iPads. The following research questions were explored: 1) In what ways do theory of mind and the prosocial behaviour of sharing manifest among preschool-aged children interacting with iPads?; 2) What are the effects of iPad use on the manifestation of theory of mind and prosocial behaviours of sharing among preschool-aged children?; 3) What are the possible connections between a child’s theory of mind and their prosocial behaviour of sharing? The study is grounded in empathy-altruism theory, social exchange theory, and social learning theories. It employed a mixed methods approach that used design-based research (DBR) strategies and video ethnography for data collection. During the study, the children wore personable cameras, which captured data from their points of view to enhance the video captured by the researcher. Phases of the DBR included: a pilot feasibility study (prototype test) with practicing teachers (n=18), field study with preschool-aged children (n=3) (four years old), and definitive test group (n=5) (three and four years old) in another early childhood education (ECE) setting. The field study and definitive test phases included a teaching intervention for data collection and analysis: 1) Reading digital story Mine, 2) ToM storybook task battery, 3) Demonstration of Chatterpix Kid, and 4) Limited iPad to children ratio using Chatterpix Kid to animate pictures taken. Data were analyzed using qualitative open-thematic coding methods and statistical methods, including Chi-square and Cohen’s Kappa for agreement. The qualitative and quantitative results indicated that all children participants had ToM attributes and incidents of prosocial behaviours occurred more than nonsocial or antisocial behaviours when using media and technology. The study’s findings underscore the importance of exploring in situ children’s ToM, using point of view wearable cameras, and continued research to understand short and long-term implications of media and technology in early childhood education.

Empowering girls as change makers in maker culture : stories from a summer camp for girls in design, media & technology (2015)

This dissertation investigates how girls develop new affinities towards and capabilities in media and technology. Thirty co-researchers, girls aged 10 to 13, were recruited into 101 Technology Fun, a series of summer camps with learning labs in animation, game design, movie production, robotics programming, and web development. The design studio setting, created by the How We Learn (Media & Technology Across the Lifespan) collective, offered girls their own makerspace to explore new roles as media and technology producers. Highlighting the importance for youth voices to be recognized and given influence in the academic research concerning their lives and learning circumstances, the findings focus on the catalytic or generative artifacts and “little stories” (e.g., Lyotard’s petits récits) revealing the co-researchers’ experiences and expressions of girlhood-in-interaction-with-technology (the key unit of analysis). Artifacts are addressed as they relate to stories made or analyzed by the girls, including their concerns, needs, talents, inspiration, literacy, and volition. The artifacts, such as music videos, robotic amusement park, and the momME alternate reality game, are catalytic for storymaking and, symmetrically, the stories are catalytic to artifact production and sharing. Four distinct yet interrelated elements characterize the co-researchers’ fieldwork and designworks: (1) agency (girls having influence and power); (2) ingenuity (girls being clever and inventive); (3) self-interpretation (girls making sense and significance); and (4) self-efficacy (girls believing in or judging their technological capabilities). Findings underscore the matter concerning how, why, and where do girls learn to become innovators, leaders, and producers of media and technology (thereby overturning traditional gender and generational stereotypes)? Indeed, how a group of female youth story changes in their sense of technological self-efficacy, self-interpretation, ingenuity, and agency is one of the most important contributions of this study. Another contribution involves the formation of the Tween Empowerment & Advocacy Methodology (TEAM), a design-based and participatory research approach that emphasizes relational ethics through artifact production, storymaking, mind scripting, invention, and imagination. Questions, both guiding and emergent, are articulated in artifact and text to motivate further scholarly inquiry, action, and advocacy, thus generating more opportunities for girls to participate in, design, make, and transform technology culture.

Designing educational games and advanced learning technologies : an identification of emotions for modeling pedagogical and adaptive emotional agents (2014)

Emotional, cognitive, and motivational processes are dynamic and influence each other during learning. The goal of this dissertation is to gain a better understanding of emotion interaction in order to design advanced learning technologies (ALTs) and intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs) that adapt to emotional needs. In order for ITSs to recognize and respond to affective states, the system needs to have knowledge of learners’ behaviors and states. Based on emotion frameworks in affective computing and education, this study responds to this need by providing an in-depth analysis of students’ affective states during learning with an educational mathematics game for grades five through seven (Heroes of Math Island) specifically designed for this research study and based on principles of instructional and game design. The mixed methodology research design had two components: (1) a quasi-experimental study and (2) affect analysis. The quasi-experimental study included pretest, intervention (gameplay), and posttest, followed by a post-questionnaire and interview. Affect analysis involved the process of identifying what emotions should be observed, and video annotations by trained judges.The study contributes to related research by: (1) reviewing sets of emotions important for learning derived from literature and pilot studies; (2) analyzing inter-judge agreement both aggregated and over individual students to gain a better understanding of how individual differences in expression affect emotion recognition; (3) examining in detail what and how many emotions actually occur or are expressed in the standard 20-second interval; (4) designing a standard method including a protocol and an instrument for trained judges; and (5) offering an in-depth exploration of the students’ subjective reactions with respect to gameplay and the mathematics content. This study analyzes and proposes an original set of emotions derived from literature and observations during gameplay. The most relevant emotions identified were boredom, confidence, confusion/hesitancy, delight/pleasure, disappointment/displeasure, engaged concentration, and frustration. Further research on this set is recommended for design of ALTs or ITSs that motivate students and respond to their cognitive and emotional needs. The methodological protocol developed to label and analyze emotions should be evaluated and tested in future studies.

Designing immersive language learning environments in virtual worlds (2013)

During the past decade, there has been increasing attention to second/foreign language teaching and learning in virtual worlds. The purpose of this study was to explore affordances of a 3D virtual world platform designed as an immersive language teaching and learning environment. Focusing on designing virtual worlds as a catalyst for change, three design phases (development of artifact, low fidelity prototyping, and high fidelity prototyping) were detailed and documented in this study. Nineteen students from a pre-service teacher cohort, two technicians and eight language learners from high schools in Vancouver as well as eighty language learners from universities in China were involved in this study; participants were asked to immerse themselves in the virtual language learning environment designed for the study. Participants’ interactions in the virtual world were videotaped and avatar interactions were recorded. Group discussions, observations, suvey questionnaires and the video-stimulated post interaction interviews provided complementary data for understanding affordances of virtual worlds in designing immersive second/foreign language learning curriculum. Analysis of the feasibility study, low fidelity design, and high fidelity design suggested a more robust design for immerisve virtual language learning environments. Three design cycles revealed primary design factors of immersive second/foreign language learning in virtual worlds (embodied avatar, co-presence, and simulation) and their relative significance in the process of learners’ meaning-making and knowledge construction.Findings showed that embodiment through an embodied avatar, community of practice through co-presence, and situated learning through simulation had a greater impact on the immersive virtual learning design. Building on a theoretical framework of embodied mind, situated learning and distributed cognition, this study documented features of learning theories key to language learning curriculum design in virtual worlds.The findings and techniques resulting from this study will help designers and researchers improve second/foreign language curriculum design in virtual worlds. It also prompts designers and researchers to achieve a better understanding of how virtual worlds can be redesigned by rethinking learning theories. The refinement of design-based research stages into low and high fidelity prototyping provides researchers with empirically tested and nuanced understandings of the design process.

Learning mathematics for the workplace : an activity theory study of pipe trades training (2010)

This study examines a single pipe trades pre-apprentice within a one-on-one impromptu tutoring session making sense of fractions-of-an-inch on a measuring tape within the context of a pre-apprenticeship program for the pipe trades. The multi-semiotic analysis of this event is framed using cultural-historical activity theory and Radford’s theory of knowledge objectification. From these complementary perspectives, mathematics is considered a culturally situated purposeful activity. Specifically, mathematics learning involves a cultural-historical, socially, and semiotically mediated process of objectification, (i.e., a process in which one becomes progressively aware and conversant, through one’s actions and interpretations, of a cultural logic of mathematical objects). The analysis focuses on the pre-apprentice’s and tutor’s joint activity during this encounter, drawing on video data and various artifacts used. This entailed slow-motion and frame-by-frame analysis of the video to assess the role and coordination of various semiotic systems, actions, and artifacts. Particular attention is paid to: the semiotic system of cultural signification, norms of practice, contradictions or conflicts that serve to motivate this activity, specific objectives of or sub-goals in the learning process for this student, semiotic processes used both by the student and tutor in the objectification process, as well as changes to the subjectification of both the pre-apprentice and researcher-as-tutor in this process. This analysis informs Radford’s theory of knowledge objectification by showing, through fine-grained analysis, relevant aspects of its dynamics and by calling attention to a new form of iconicity and a process of semiotic extraction, both original contributions to research. It also shows various ways in which a learner’s subjectification is evident in the process of learning mathematics. The results have a number of practical implications for the teaching of mathematics generally, and mathematics for the workplace in particular, by drawing attention to the social, cultural, historical, and mediated dimensions and dynamics of mathematics learning activity. The findings also illustrate the complexity of learning to measure by identifying a number of processes and conflicts involved and practical ways these are negotiated or resolved.

Teachers' perceptions of media education in BC secondary schools : challenges and possibilities (2010)

The inclusion of media education and integration of media literacy into the K-12 school curriculum is seemingly well established in Canada. Despite successes, media education does not yet have widespread acceptance. For example, in British Columbia (BC), research suggests that media education has not been significantly implemented into the curriculum. In order to identify a baseline and the challenges that media education faces, this research focused on a case study of Lower Mainland, BC secondary schools in order to understand the implementation of mediaeducation. One notable challenge is a lack of research on this topic; this dissertation contributes to knowledge of teachers’ perspectives on or perceptions of media education and literacy. The case study includes five data sources and an analysis of texts. The data sources include:Pre-service teachers (n=42), In-service teachers (n=24), English and Social Studies teachers (n=17), Department heads (n=4), and teachers experienced in media education (n=4). The research addressed four questions. First, what are in-service and pre-service teachers’ perceptions of media literacy? Second, what is the current status of media education? Third, what kind of support is available for media education or for teachers to integrate media literacy into classroom instruction? Fourth, what are the obstacles and challenges that teachers encounter when teaching about the media? Findings from this case study suggest that media education is only partially included in the secondary school curriculum in Lower Mainland schools. In this case, media literacy is also hit or miss, and depends on teachers’ interests and time made available to address topics that fall outside of the conventional English and Social Studies curriculum. Experienced teachers manage to find their own ways and means for media education practice, but for other teachers, immense challenges and obstacles prevent even a recognition of the importance of media education and literacy. A lack of teacher awareness of existing resources compounds the challenges, and opportunities for professional development are limited in BC. In summary, the recognition of media literacy’s importance does not in this case necessarily transfer to media education in practice.

Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
Tweens, teens, and digital texts : designing affinity spaces to understand cyberbullying (2016)

This research explores how adolescents design, interpret, and navigate affinity spaces in connection to cyberbullying awareness. A class of Grade 8 students (aged 12-13, mixed gender, and a variety of digital skills) (n=28) participated in the study. The participants first investigated the use of affinity spaces, collaborative physical and digital spaces (Gee, 2005), then proceeded to design their own spaces for collaborative group work. A variety of data were collected in the form of peer-to-peer pre interviews, OneNote collaborative group journals, in-class observations of class work sessions, and post interviews. The methodologies used include case study, design-based research, and ethnographic techniques. This research was conducted in six stages and in a total of 15 hours; certain stages were allotted extra work sessions to accommodate the speed of the students’ progress. Stages three to five overlapped and occurred simultaneously as students designed, tried, re-examined and compared other applications, then re-evaluated their designs. The findings of this study inform how adolescents design affinity spaces (real and virtual) and emphasize design features to serve as functioning collaborative workspaces, both in and out of the classroom, to prevent or counter cyberbullying. Findings related to how students design affinity spaces for collaborative work emerged in three themes: Group Presence, Individual Digital Space, and Guidelines for Clarity. Student-informed or student-designed spaces provide a sense of ownership or and self-regulation and give insight as to how codes of conduct inform these spaces and vice versa. Future studies should adopt an iterative process of design-based research to test and refine these affinity spaces (Collins et al., 2004; Wang, Petrina, & Feng, 2015). Recommendations also include future applications of sociocultural theory and activity theory to discern how adolescents differentiate between face-to-face and online communication and practical classroom applications of affinity spaces in secondary schools.

Bourdieu and Latour in STS : "Let's leave aside all the facts for a while" (2014)

Through the lens of the English-speaking Science and Technology Studies (STS) community, the relationship between Pierre Bourdieu and Bruno Latour has remained semi-opaque. This thesis problematizes the Anglo understanding of the Bourdieu-Latour relationship and unsettles the resolve that maintains the distance that STS has kept from Bourdieu. Despite many similarities between these two scholars, Bourdieu has remained a distant figure to STS despite his predominance in disciplines from which STS frequently borrows and the relevance of his corpus to topics dear to the heart of STS. This is in part due to Latour's frequent criticisms of Bourdieu by name, Latour’s philosophical disagreements with Kant and neoKantians, and Latour’s prestige in STS, and partially due to Bourdieu’s somewhat indirect or orthogonal ways of addressing natural and physical sciences and technology. Due to the fact that the writings of both needed to be translated from the original French to be received by Anglo audiences, important cultural, stylistic, and rhetorical nuances were lost, mistranslated, or not translated across the linguistic and geographical divides. Including these distinctions is invaluable to understanding their relationship and further weakens the justification for Bourdieu's absence from STS.

Video gaming in the classroom : insights and ideas from teenage students (2013)

For this research, four high school aged teenagers participated in an intensive one week video gaming camp, at which time they articulated their attitudes and ideas about mainstream video games and their place in education. The purpose was to explore strategies for utilizing mainstream commercial video games for educative purposes in the classroom. The participants’ insights along with observations made on their interaction with video games were analyzed through Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation and the General Aggression Model. In summary, the participants, more or less experts in gaming, enjoyed video games and described them as one of their favourite activities. Furthermore, it was found that video games played both a positive and negative role in the participants’ lives. For example, all participants seemed to have developed healthy values and relationships directly through playing video games during their preadolescent years. Conversely, their responses also indicated that they experienced limits to video games and did not see innovation from market and home to school as a smooth, trivial process. Rather, they provided key insights into aligning specific games with specific content, curriculum, and courses. The participants’ insights suggest that the use of mainstream video games for learning will most likely continue to be a fringe strategy implemented by individual teachers who actively discern the educational uses of video games. Game and gaming literacies are among the most recent entries into new literacies research. This thesis contributes to this research by exploring teenagers’ ideas about gaming in the classroom. In conclusion, this study finds that mainstream video games have potential to be effectively used as learning strategies in the classroom in the future pending on continued progress and interest in this endeavor.

Sequencing instruction in chemistry : simulation or traditional first? (2010)

The purpose of this study is to investigate how a technology-enhanced lesson based on the principles of model-based teaching and learning can contribute to student understanding of two challenging topics in chemistry: Le Chatelier’s Principle and Chemical Equilibrium. A computer simulation program was utilized that contained multiple digital representations,such as: a chemical formula view, a slider view, a graph view, a description view, a prediction view, a molecular view and a dynamic analogy view. The study also addressed the sequencing of instruction, changing when computer simulation was introduced in two chemistry 12 classes (n=46). One class of 22 students received instruction in a traditional form (lecture, labs) and then interacted with the simulation and the other class of 24 students interacted with simulations first and then received a traditional form of instruction. Both the classes participated in a pre-test, mid-test, post-test, surveys and interviews designed to assess students’ conceptual understanding of chemical equilibrium. Statistical analysis of thetests revealed that a computer simulation such as Technology-Enhanced Model-Based Science (TEMBS) promoted understanding by supporting the generation of more scientifically accurate models of chemical equilibrium. Secondly, there was a significant improvement in test results of students who received instruction in a traditional form first and then interacted with simulations compared with students who interacted with simulations firstand then received traditional instruction. According to the surveys, students in both classes listed teacher discussions in class as one of the three most important contributions to their learning. An implication of this study for science educators and educational technologists is that computer simulations such as TEMBS simulation which utilize multiple representationsincluding a dynamic analogy can assist students in their understanding of abstract concepts such as Le Chatelier’s principle and can be more effective if introduced after a full discussion of the concept and notes.


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.