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Educational Games for Self Learning in Introductory Programming Courses - a Straightforward Design Approach with Progression Mechanisms
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
2012 (English)In: PROCEEDINGS OF THE 6TH EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON GAMES BASED LEARNING / [ed] Patrick Felicia, Reading, UK: Academic Publishing International Limited , 2012, 285-293 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

During the relatively short history of Computer science and programming education the pass rate has been low in most introductory programming courses at university level. Students taking courses have had severe problems in the understanding of how to construct algorithms and also with the implementation of more basic programming techniques. There are identified bottlenecks in theoretical concepts but there have also been problems with the solving of assignments and more practical parts of programming courses. Educational games aimed at teaching programming has been frequently discussed in academic research during the last years. Many of them feature studies of developed games and some point to good results in learning. The developed games range from puzzle games to Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPG) and with all from per purpose built games to embedding learning content in existing games. Although per purpose built games have proven to be most efficient an objection has been that they are too expensive. What features are really needed to engage students in a programming game? Do we need to make games that resemble the gaming industry’s AAA games to a cost of 20 to 30 million euros per title in order to motivate students? This study evaluates an approach using different progression mechanisms to attempt to motivate the players along with a straight forward narrative that situates the learning of various programming concepts for the player. Players get various programming missions on different levels to solve in different Swedish cities. After a completed mission players get points related to the quality of their code solutions in the Python programming language. If they have enough points they get access to a higher level where more advanced programming techniques are required. A game prototype has been developed in the Flash environment using the ActionScript programming language. A quantative approached with semi-structured interviews has been used in the evaluation of the prototype. Findings show that the game could help students to improve their programming skills and our recommendation is that educational games should be used for self learning in introductory programming courses if they can be designed in a way that attracts the students.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Reading, UK: Academic Publishing International Limited , 2012. 285-293 p.
Keyword [en]
Educational Games, Game-based learning, Programming, E-learning, Python, Edutainment, Programming Games
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82231ISBN: 978-1-908272-69-0OAI: diva2:567208
ECGBL 2012, 6th European Conference on Games Based Learning, 4-5 October 2012, Cork, Ireland
Available from: 2012-11-12 Created: 2012-11-12 Last updated: 2013-10-28Bibliographically approved

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