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Let the students contruct their own fun and knowledge - learning to program by building computer games
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
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2013 (English)In: Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on Games Based Learning, Vol. 1 and 2 / [ed] Paula Escudeiro, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho, Academic Conferences and Publishing International , 2013, 418-426 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Computer programming is a core subject in most Computer science programmes at university level but many students have difficulties with both the understanding of theoretical concepts and with the learning of practical programming skills. Several studies have pointed out that there exist pedagogical and motivational problems resulting in high drop-out rates and low learning outcomes. On the other hand today’s students have grown up in a digital and internet connected world where playing computer games is a common and appreciated spare time activity. It has been discussed during many years amongst teachers and researchers which important features a programming language should have to support learning and which the appropriate programming paradigms are for introductory programming courses. Less has been discussed and written about modifying the actual course content and use the recognised attraction and catalytic effect of computer games. The aim of this case study is to describe, analyze and discuss the concept of learning to program by game construction. In this case study two course analyses have been combined with a literature review on pedagogy for Game Based Learning (GBL Findings from the literature review show that the idea of students constructing knowledge in their interactions with their environment is not a new one and that games have been used in educational contexts long before the introduction of computers. The idea of Game based learning has support in the constructivist learning theory concept that was introduced theoretically at university level in the 1970s by Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Results from the study also indicate that the practical application of the game construction concept has been successful in the two investigated programming courses both when it comes to student motivation and learning outcomes. Furthermore, this game based pedagogy can motivate students not only to develop themselves as future programmers but also to become more innovative and entrepreneurial by improving the quality and performance of the games in order to deploy, promote and sell them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Academic Conferences and Publishing International , 2013. 418-426 p.
, Proceedings of the European Conference on Games-Based Learning, ISSN 2049-0992
Keyword [en]
Game-based learning, GBL, Computer games, Programming education, Constructivism
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-95614ISI: 000343421700051ISBN: 978-1-909507-65-4OAI: diva2:660922
ECGBL 2013 7th European Conference on Games Based Learning, 3-4 October 2013, Porto, Portugal
Available from: 2013-10-31 Created: 2013-10-31 Last updated: 2014-12-02Bibliographically approved

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