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Research Roundup: Game-Based Learning for Computer Science Education

Game-based learning for computer science education…it’s super effective!

 (Image source: Gifer)

But don’t just take my word for it! Previously, our team has highlighted numerous research studies showcasing the power of learning games to improve engagement and learning outcomes among both K-12 and adult learners, as well as for more specific applications like language learning and VR for impact. Awesome, right? We think so, too…and now, we’re back with an all-new, all-computer science learning game research roundup!

Check out these studies which shine a spotlight on the efficacy of game-based approaches to teaching core programming fundamentals:

A Serious Game for Developing Computational Thinking and Learning Introductory Computer Programming

Conducted by researchers at the University of Greenwich and published in The Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, this study examines the efficacy of game-based learning in encouraging the development of computational thinking skills. Using a custom-made serious game designed to help players practice programming fundamentals, researchers surveyed 25 computer science students of varying degree programs and skill levels in order to collect feedback on the game. Overall, participants reported that they believe the game would serve as an effective tool for helping learners grasp basic computer science fundamentals and refine their problem-solving skills.

Game-Themed Programming Assignment Modules: A Pathway for Gradual Integration of Gaming Context Into Existing Introductory Programming Courses

Is it possible for computer science educators with no prior background in computer gaming to utilize game-based learning teaching strategies in their classrooms? According to this study published in IEEE Transactions on Education, the answer appears to be a resounding yes! Highlighting the results thus far from ongoing implementations of game-themed programming assessments (GTA) in introductory computer science courses at University of Washington, the study found that it is entirely viable for faculty members with no experience in games to integrate GTA modules in their existing courses without any adverse effects on student learning outcomes.

Digital Game-Based Learning in High School Computer Science Education

Aiming to measure the efficacy and motivational appeal of game-based approaches to computer science education, this study published in Computers & Education examined the Computer Memory Knowledge Test (CMKT) performance of 88 students – half of which relied on game-based study materials, with the other half using non-gaming materials. Results showed that the gaming approach helped enhance both learning games and motivation among participants, suggesting the efficacy of educational games as a means to improve computer science learning outcomes among high school learners.

PlayIT: Game Based Learning Approach for Teaching Programming Concepts

Featured in journal Educational Technology & Society, this study examines the learning outcomes of two cohorts of computing diploma students exposed to programming learning game LightBot – one which would then start a programming learning module, and one which had already completed the module. Overall, learners from both groups reported that they found the game to be highly enjoyable and engaging, aiding in their comprehension of challenging programming constructs. Among students who had not yet started the programming module, LightBot game play resulted in fostering a largely positive attitude towards studying computer science.

Further reading:
5 Great Games That Teach Computer Science (+ 5 more!)
Teach Yourself to Code for Free
What Makes Great Learning Games?

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