Design Insights into the Creation and Evaluation of a Computer Science Educational Game

Britton Horn, Christopher Clark, Oskar Strom, Hilery Chao, Amy J. Stahl, Casper Harteveld, Gillian Smith. 2016. Design Insights into the Creation and Evaluation of a Computer Science Educational Game. Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2016), March 2-5, Memphis, TN.

Abstract

Computer Science (CS) education at the middle school level using educational games has seen recent growth and shown promising results. Typically these games teach the craft of programming and not the perspectives required for computational thinking, such as abstraction and algorithm design, characteristic of a CS curriculum. This research presents a game designed to teach computational thinking via the problem of minimum spanning trees to middle school students, a set of evaluation instruments, and the results of an experimental pilot study. Results show a moderate increase in minimum spanning tree performance; however, differences between gender, collaboration method, and game genre preference are apparent. Based on these results, we discuss design considerations for future CS educational games focused on computational thinking.

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