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  1. The push to develop low-stakes and personally meaningful computer science experiences is creating novel opportunities to broaden participation in CS. These opportunities have become increasingly present across contexts and have pushed the boundaries on ways for introducing and sustaining student participation in computing. However, while these experiences tend to be effective ways for engaging new participants and new forms of participation, we must be careful to not overlook how 'high-stakes' these experiences might be for learners. To explore this tension, this paper describes two case studies of students engaging in coding and computational thinking with Minecraft Education Edition. The first case study involves a 7-year-old Black and Latina girl who experiences significant frustration when her computer program destroys significant portions of her project. The second is from a Latino boy who avoids using the coding capabilities in Minecraft EDU out of fear that the code might not work properly. Building on these case studies, this paper suggests that the field take steps to ensure that the language and actions associated with low-stakes and high-stakes are reflective of learner perceptions, and that we design learning experiences that appropriately reflect this nuance.
  2. In this paper, we present work on bringing multimodal interaction to Minecraft. The platform, Multicraft, incorporates speech-based input, eye tracking, and natural language understanding to facilitate more equitable gameplay in Minecraft. We tested the platform with elementary, middle school students and college students through a collection of studies. Students found each of the provided modalities to be a compelling way to play Minecraft. Additionally, we discuss the ways that these different types of multimodal data can be used to identify the meaningful spatial reasoning practices that students demonstrate while playing Minecraft. Collectively, this paper emphasizes the opportunity to bridge a multimodal interface with a means for collecting rich data that can better support diverse learners in non-traditional learning environments.
  3. Šķilters, J. ; Newcombe, N. ; Uttal, D. (Ed.)
    As excitement for Minecraft continues to grow, we consider its potential to function as an engaging environment for practicing and studying spatial reasoning. To support this exposition, we describe a glimpse of our current analysis of spatial reasoning skills in Minecraft. Twenty university students participated in a laboratory study that asked them to recreate three existing buildings in Minecraft. Screen captures of user actions, together with eye tracking data, helped us identify ways that students utilize perspective taking, constructing mental representations, building and place-marking, and error checking. These findings provide an initial impetus for further studies of the types of spatial skills that students may exhibit while playing Minecraft. It also introduces questions about how the design of Minecraft activities may promote, or inhibit, the use of certain spatial skills.
  4. Spatial reasoning is an important skillset that is malleable to training interventions. One possible context for intervention is the popular video game Minecraft. Minecraft encourages users to engage in spatial manipulation of 3D objects. However, few papers have chronicled any in-game practices that might evidence spatial reasoning, or how we might study its development through the game. In this paper, we report on 11 middle school students’ spatial reasoning practices while playing Minecraft. We use audio and video data of student gameplay to delineate five in-game practices that align with spatial reasoning. We expand on a student case study, to explicate these practices. The identified practices may be beneficial for studying spatial reasoning development in game-based environments and contribute to a growing body of research on ways games support development of important and transferable skills.