E-Net News

Crider to lead national Reacting to the Past Consortium

Tony Crider, associate professor of physics, has been involved with the Reacting to the Past initiative, which uses role-playing games as instructional tools in the classroom, for more than a decade.


Tony Crider has been elected board chair for the Reacting Consortium, a group of more than 50 colleges and universities around the country that develops role-playing games to inform and transform student learning in higher education.

Tony Crider, associate professor of physics

Crider, associate professor of physics, has been involved with the Reacting to the Past initiative, since being introduced to it in 2007 when he first attended a consortium conference as he participated in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning Scholars Program. The Reacting to the Past approach proved to be a creative way for Crider to engage students with course material.

Crider has since led workshops centered on role-playing as an instructional tool and was part of a team of educators that received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to research game play in science classrooms.

“The Reacting Consortium is helping thousands of educators across the country get outside of their comfort zones and try new approaches to teaching. I’m very honored to be able to help them with this effort in the coming years.

As its mission, the Reacting Consortium seeks “to promote imagination, inquiry and engagement as foundational features of teaching and student learning in higher education through the development and dissemination of Reacting to the Past role-playing games.”

The consortium provides faculty with the opportunity to learn this unique pedagogy and is a vehicle for faculty to share their best practices and experiences in using the Reacting to the Past approach.

The Reacting to the Past pedagogy was pioneered by Barnard College in New York, with the games set in the past and informed by classic texts such as Plato’s Republic or Galileo’s Starry Messenger. Students read materials from pivotal moments in history, and then debate “a big question” while grouped in factions.

As an example, Crider’s “The Pluto Debate” game centers around the question before the International Astronomical Union about whether Pluto is a planet. Students were grouped into “Plutophile,” “Rebel” and “Indeterminate” voter factions, and given specific roles to play. For instance, one student plays the role of Neil deGrasse Tyson, a renowned astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium.

“Teaching with Reacting to the Past motivates students to explore pivotal moments in history, to debate controversial topics in public, and to empathize with those they might disagree with. Those skills are crucial for our society, perhaps now more than ever.”

Crider, who has previously been on the consortium’s board, will serve as chair through 2020.


Owen Covington,
1/30/2018 7:50 AM