skip to main content


Title: Gaming Together, Coding Together: Collaborative Pathways to Computational Learning
Collaborative, playful learning represents an important avenue to mastering a range of skills within computer science education. This research presents findings from interviews with 9 members of an online community that started out as a gaming league and transitioned into a game development team. Community members learned programming skills to contribute their ideas to the game and participate in activities based around game development. Drawing on these experiences, we identify key elements from informal learning that can improve computer science education: 1) playful projects can help learners overcome barriers to participating in computer science; 2) community closeness facilitates a collaborative learning environment to support developing expertise in specific computational skills. We consider these findings in the context of learning as an everyday social practice, and discuss means of developing playful learning communities in computer science classrooms.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1936741
NSF-PAR ID:
10465805
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1034-1041
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Previous studies have convincingly shown that traditional, content-centered, and didactic teaching methods are not effective for developing a deep understanding and knowledge transfer. Nor does it adequately address the development of critical problem-solving skills. Active and collaborative instruction, coupled with effective means to encourage student engagement, invariably leads to better student learning outcomes irrespective of academic discipline. Despite these findings, the existing construction engineering programs, for the most part, consist of a series of fragmented courses that mainly focus on procedural skills rather than on the fundamental and conceptual knowledge that helps students become innovative problem-solvers. In addition, these courses are heavily dependent on traditional lecture-based teaching methods focused on well-structured and closed-ended problems that prepare students to plug variables into equations to get the answer. Existing programs rarely offer a systematic approach to allow students to develop a deep understanding of the engineering core concepts and discover systematic solutions for fundamental problems. Without properly understanding these core concepts, contextualized in domain-specific settings, students are not able to develop a holistic view that will help them to recognize the big picture and think outside the box to come up with creative solutions for arising problems. The long history of empirical learning in the field of construction engineering shows the significant potential of cognitive development through direct experience and reflection on what works in particular situations. Of course, the complex nature of the construction industry in the twenty-first century cannot afford an education through trial and error in the real environment. However, recent advances in computer science can help educators develop virtual environments and gamification platforms that allow students to explore various scenarios and learn from their experiences. This study aims to address this need by assessing the effectiveness of guided active exploration in a digital game environment on students’ ability to discover systematic solutions for fundamental problems in construction engineering. To address this objective, through a research project funded by the NSF Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC), we designed and developed a scenario-based interactive digital game, called Zebel, to guide students solve fundamental problems in construction scheduling. The proposed gamified pedagogical approach was designed based on the Constructivism learning theory and a framework that consists of six essential elements: (1) modeling; (2) reflection; (3) strategy formation; (4) scaffolded exploration; (5) debriefing; and (6) articulation. We also designed a series of pre- and post-assessment instruments for empirical data collection to assess the effectiveness of the proposed approach. The proposed gamified method was implemented in a graduate-level construction planning and scheduling course. The outcomes indicated that students with no prior knowledge of construction scheduling methods were able to discover systematic solutions for fundamental scheduling problems through their experience with the proposed gamified learning method. 
    more » « less
  2. Ethics education has been recognized as increasingly important to engineering over the past two decades, although disagreement exists concerning how ethics can and should be taught in the classroom. With the support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program, a collaboration of investigators from the University of Connecticut, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of Pittsburgh, and Rowan University are conducting a mixed-methods project investigating how game-based or playful learning with strongly situated components can influence first-year engineering students’ ethical knowledge, awareness, and decision making. We have conducted preliminary analyses of first-year students’ ethical reasoning and knowledge using the Defining Issues Test 2 (DIT-2), Engineering Ethics Reasoning Instrument (EERI), and concept map assessment to characterize where students “are at” when they come to college, the results of which can be found in past ASEE publications. Additionally, we have developed a suite of ethics-driven classroom games that have been implemented and evaluated across three universities, engaging over 400 first-year engineering students. Now in its third year, we are modifying and (re)designing two of the game- based ethics interventions to (1) more accurately align with the ethical dilemmas in the EERI, (2) allow for more flexibility in modality of how the games are distributed to faculty and students, and (3) provide more variety in terms of the contexts of ethical dilemmas as well as types of dilemmas. As part of the continued development of the game-based ethical interventions, we are piloting a new assessment tool specific for playful learning in engineering ethics and aimed at measuring students ethical reasoning and thought process after they have played the game(s). The past year has provided insight into the potential limitations of the existing methods for measuring changes in ethical reasoning in students, as well as compared changes between first year and senior students. The last year has highlighted the situated or contextual nature of much of the ethical decision making that students do and incorporated both qualitative and quantitative methods. Further results from this investigation will provide the engineering education community with a set of impactful and research-based playful learning pedagogy and assessment that will help students confront social and ethical dilemmas in their professional lives. 
    more » « less
  3. Between 2018 and 2021 PIs for National Science Foundation Awards # 1758781 and 1758814 EAGER: Collaborative Research: Developing and Testing an Incubator for Digital Entrepreneurship in Remote Communities, in partnership with the Tanana Chiefs Conference, the traditional tribal consortium of the 42 villages of Interior Alaska, jointly developed and conducted large-scale digital and in-person surveys of multiple Alaskan interior communities. The survey was distributed via a combination of in-person paper surveys, digital surveys, social media links, verbal in-person interviews and telephone-based responses. Analysis of this measure using SAS demonstrated the statistically significant need for enhanced digital infrastructure and reworked digital entrepreneurial and technological education in the Tanana Chiefs Conference region. 1. Two statistical measures were created during this research: Entrepreneurial Readiness (ER) and Digital Technology needs and skills (DT), both of which showed high measures of internal consistency (.89, .81). 2. The measures revealed entrepreneurial readiness challenges and evidence of specific addressable barriers that are currently preventing (serving as hindrances) to regional digital economic activity. The survey data showed statistically significant correlation with the mixed-methodological in-person focus groups and interview research conducted by the PIs and TCC collaborators in Hughes and Huslia, AK, which further corroborated stated barriers to entrepreneurship development in the region. 3. Data generated by the survey and fieldwork is maintained by the Tanana Chiefs Conference under data sovereignty agreements. The survey and focus group data contains aggregated statistical/empirical data as well as qualitative/subjective detail that runs the risk of becoming personally identifiable especially due to (but not limited to) to concerns with exceedingly small Arctic community population sizes. 4. This metadata is being provided in order to serve as a record of the data collection and analysis conducted, and also to share some high-level findings that, while revealing no personal information, may be helpful for policymaking, regional planning and efforts towards educational curricular development and infrastructural investment. The sample demographics consist of 272 women, 79 men, and 4 with gender not indicated as a response. Barriers to Entrepreneurial Readiness were a component of the measure. Lack of education is the #1 barrier, followed closely by lack of access to childcare. Among women who participated in the survey measure, 30% with 2 or more children report lack of childcare to be a significant barrier to entrepreneurial and small business activity. For entrepreneurial readiness and digital economy, the scales perform well from a psychometric standpoint. The summary scores are roughly normally distributed. Cronbach’s alphas are greater than 0.80 for both. They are moderately correlated with each other (r = 0.48, p < .0001). Men and women do not differ significantly on either measure. Education is significantly related to the digital economy measure. The detail provided in the survey related to educational needs enabled optimized development of the Incubator for Digital Entrepreneurship in Remote Communities. Enhanced digital entrepreneurship training with clear cultural linkages to traditions and community needs, along with additional childcare opportunities are two among several specific recommendations provided to the TCC. The project PIs are working closely with the TCC administration and community members related to elements of culturally-aligned curricular development that respects data tribal sovereignty, local data management protocols, data anonymity and adherence to human subjects (IRB) protocols. While the survey data is currently embargoed and unable to be submitted publicly for reasons of anonymity, the project PIs are working with the NSF Arctic Data Center towards determining pathways for sharing personally-protected data with the larger scientific community. These approaches may consist of aggregating and digitally anonymizing sensitive data in ways that cannot be de-aggregated and that meet agency and scientific community needs (while also fully respecting and protecting participants’ rights and personal privacy). At present the data sensitivity protocols are not yet adapted to TCC requirements and the datasets will remain in their care. 
    more » « less
  4. This study aims to investigate the collaboration processes of immigrant families as they search for online information together. Immigrant English-language learning adults of lower socioeconomic status often work collaboratively with their children to search the internet. Family members rely on each other’s language and digital literacy skills in this collaborative process known as online search and brokering (OSB). While previous work has identified ecological factors that impact OSB, research has not yet distilled the specific learning processes behind such collaborations. Design/methodology/approach: For this study, the authors adhere to practices of a case study examination. This study’s participants included parents, grandparents and children aged 10–17 years. Most adults were born in Mexico, did not have a college-degree, worked in service industries and represented a lower-SES population. This study conducted two to three separate in-home family visits per family with interviews and online search tasks. Findings: From a case study analysis of three families, this paper explores the funds of knowledge, resilience, ecological support and challenges that children and parents face, as they engage in collaborative OSB experiences. This study demonstrates how in-home computer-supported collaborative processes are often informal, social, emotional and highly relevant to solving information challenges. Research limitations/implications: An intergenerational OSB process is different from collaborative online information problem-solving that happens between classroom peers or coworkers. This study’s research shows how both parents and children draw on their funds of knowledge, resilience and ecological support systems when they search collaboratively, with and for their family members, to problem solve. This is a case study of three families working in collaboration with each other. This case study informs analytical generalizations and theory-building rather than statistical generalizations about families. Practical implications: Designers need to recognize that children and youth are using the same tools as adults to seek high-level critical information. This study’s model suggests that if parents and children are negotiating information seeking with the same technology tools but different funds of knowledge, experience levels and skills, the presentation of information (e.g. online search results, information visualizations) needs to accommodate different levels of understanding. This study recommends designers work closely with marginalized communities through participatory design methods to better understand how interfaces and visuals can help accommodate youth invisible work. Social implications: The authors have demonstrated in this study that learning and engaging in family online searching is not only vital to the development of individual and digital literacy skills, it is a part of family learning. While community services, libraries and schools have a responsibility to support individual digital and information literacy development, this study’s model highlights the need to recognize funds of knowledge, family resiliency and asset-based learning. Schools and teachers should identify and harness youth invisible work as a form of learning at home. The authors believe educators can do this by highlighting the importance of information problem solving in homes and youth in their families. Libraries and community centers also play a critical role in supporting parents and adults for technical assistance (e.g. WiFi access) and information resources. Originality/value: This study’s work indicates new conditions fostering productive joint media engagement (JME) around OSB. This study contributes a generative understanding that promotes studying and designing for JME, where family responsibility is the focus.

     
    more » « less
  5. An increasingly global environment expects graduating Engineering students to perform, live and work across cultures. Most intercultural competence research and associated global engineering education is focused on developing the global engineering skill set through long-term travel experiences such as study abroad programs. These programs can be expensive from both a time and money standpoint, limiting the participation to more privileged members of a community, and are not scalable to support broader participation. This work-in-progress addresses this research gap by focusing on the development of the students’ global learner mindset without requiring extensive travel. The project will investigate four different global engagement interventions, including the use of engineering case studies, the intentional formation of multi-national student teams, a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) research project, and a community engaged project within a short course. These interventions can be used to develop a holistic global learner mindset and global engineering education approach to foster global competence in undergraduate engineering students. The four global engagement interventions will be grounded in the global engineering competency (GEC) theoretical framework and assessed for their ability to foster a global learner mindset in engineering students. A mixed-methods approach will be used to assess students’ global learner mindset and skill set. This research will use the Global Engagement Survey (GES), the Global Engineering Competency Scale (GECS) and specific questions developed by the researchers to evaluate improvements in the participating students’ global engineering skill set and answer specific research questions including: 1) To what extent can global competence be developed in engineering students through the use of the proposed global engagement interventions; and 2) what are the relative strengths of each of the proposed global engagement interventions in developing global engineering competence? Combined, these research measures will provide both an accurate picture of how each global engagement intervention impacts the formation of a global learner mindset in engineering education, and also its associated ability to develop and/or improve global engineering skills. The outcomes of this study will generate valuable knowledge to understand how each global engagement intervention impacts the formation of global engineering competence. In this work-in-progress study, the authors discuss the four global engagement interventions with specific learning objectives that have been mapped to the overall student outcomes for the project. These objectives have also been mapped to the GES and GECS instruments. Finally the faculty members have developed qualitative tools to augment the GES and GECS to identify the global engineering skill sets each intervention is generating. This paper lays the foundation before implementing the interventions and performing their associated assessments over the several subsequent semesters. 
    more » « less