Conference PaperPDF Available

Exploring the Effects of Physical Embodiment in a Puzzle-Based Educational Programming Game

Authors:

Abstract

One prominent aspect of programming skills/expertise is that it requires the use of many creative processes such as problem-solving, visualization, reflection, motivation and handling failure. While there have been a variety of puzzle-based educational programming games created to help teach learners these skills, few have been evaluated to assess their efficacy in developing programming and problem-solving skills or improving learners' positive emotional responses. Furthermore, most games are designed for a single player touchpad/mouse experience. This is problematic when trying to understand the validity of these designs, and whether there are alternative physically embodied design approaches that may prove more effective. My dissertation work helps address this problem. After creating a framework based on a meta-review that carefully dissects embodiment strategies in learning games, I am creating and evaluating tangible and augmented reality versions of a programming game. I plan to examine how these different forms of physical interaction help to facilitate and enhance meaning-making, problem-solving, and positive emotions.
Exploring the Effects of Physical
Embodiment in a Puzzle-Based
Educational Programming Game
Abstract
One prominent aspect of programming skills/expertise
is that it requires the use of many creative processes
such as problem-solving, visualization, reflection,
motivation and handling failure. While there have been
a variety of puzzle-based educational programming
games created to help teach learners these skills, few
have been evaluated to assess their efficacy in
developing programming and problem-solving skills or
improving learners’ positive emotional responses.
Furthermore, most games are designed for a single
player touchpad/mouse experience. This is problematic
when trying to understand the validity of these designs,
and whether there are alternative physically embodied
design approaches that may prove more effective. My
dissertation work helps address this problem. After
creating a framework based on a meta-review that
carefully dissects embodiment strategies in learning
games, I am creating and evaluating tangible and
augmented reality versions of a programming game. I
plan to examine how these different forms of physical
interaction help to facilitate and enhance meaning-
making, problem-solving, and positive emotions.
Author Keywords
Physical Embodiment; Embodied Cognition; Enactment;
Embodied Interaction; Tangibles; Computational
Thinking; Educational Programming Game.
Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work
for
personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are
not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that
copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights
for third-party components of this work must be honored. For all other
uses, contact the Owner/Author.
C&C '17, June 27-30, 2017, Singapore, Singapore
© 2017 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s).
ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-4403-6/17/06.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3059454.3078704.
Edward F. Melcer
New York University
Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
eddie.melcer@nyu.edu
Graduate Student Symposium
C&C 2017, June 27–30, 2017, Singapore
532
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g.,
HCI): Miscellaneous.
Introduction
One prominent aspect of computational thinking (CT)
and programming skills/expertise is that they require
the use of creative processes such as problem-solving,
idea generation, reflection, and understanding failure
[9, 34, 48]. Much like the cyclic process of ideation and
evaluation that underlies creativity [27], programming
can be seen as a search through different problem
spaces that requires the iterative generation and
testing of hypotheses [23]. Programmers must identify
a problem, generate ideas/solutions, evaluate and
reflect upon the effectiveness of said ideas, and be
motivated enough to cope with and understand failure
in order to generate new ideas. However, the radical
novelty [10] of these processes and the subject matter
in general can evoke strong negative feelings towards
programming [18, 24, 41], presenting challenges to
learners' self-beliefs, and creating barriers to learning
[44]. Conversely, video games are promising tools for
improving students’ motivation and practicing the
ideation/evaluation cycle of creativity since playing
video games involves guessing, thinking, testing, and
repeated opportunities for failure or success [1, 12].
In programming education, there have been numerous
educational programming games created that are
puzzle-based and focus on learning through problem-
solving and reflection (e.g., Mazzy [21], BOTS [15, 16],
Blockly [8], and Machineers [26]). However, little is
understood about the effects of these programming-
focused puzzle games and design choices made within
them [31]. Do they actually improve problem-solving
ability, performance, and positive emotional responses
needed for STEM learning and creativity, or do they
simply function as chocolate-covered broccoli?
Furthermore, the similar design choices of most
programming puzzle games—which focus on single
player touchpad/mouse and keyboard experiences [14,
31]—may be neglecting recent research highlighting
the efficacy of alternative body-centric, physically
embodied theories and approaches (i.e., embodied
cognition, embodied interaction, and enactment) in
helping learners make meaning, problem-solve, and
improve positive emotional responses [22, 30, 31, 36,
38]. Two robust and common physical embodiment
approaches within HCI and Learning Science
communities are tangibles/manipulatives [33, 36] and
augmented reality (AR) [6, 22]. The principal
advantage of tangibles is that they allow for learning
concepts to be embedded directly into the physical
material and design of an object, as well as through the
embodied interactions learners have by manipulating
these objects [36, 39]. AR’s primary advantage is
utilizing embodied cognition to help learners develop
understanding through mirroring or enacting learning
concepts with their body [22]. Both tangibles and AR
have been found to result in benefits for a wide range
of factors in non-programming domains such as
engagement [11], interest [2], and collaboration [46].
The goal of my research is to explore how the diverse
affordances of various forms of physical embodiment
differentially impact meaning-making processes,
enhance positive emotional responses for learners, and
improve performance in problem-solving tasks [28–31].
This will be done through controlled comparison of
Figure 1: The Bots & (Main)Frames
game. The UI is identical for all
versions of the game and only
differs on physical embodiment and
interaction using 1) the mouse; 2)
tangible programming blocks; and
3) AR enactment of code execution.
Graduate Student Symposium
C&C 2017, June 27–30, 2017, Singapore
533
different versions of an educational programming game
I created called Bots & (Main)Frames (see Figure 1).
Bots & (Main)Frames
Bots & (Main)Frames is designed to incorporate
common design characteristics of many educational
programming games (i.e., players program a virtual
robot to solve puzzles [14]), and provides a comparison
point for differing forms of physical embodiment and
interaction (e.g., mouse vs. tangible programming
blocks vs. AR enactment). The game objective is to
program a virtual robot to reach all red tiles in a maze
from a given starting point, using a limited number of
commands in each level. Players are able to program
the robot to move forward, rotate 90 degrees left or
right, use a loop (repeat one command a specified
number of times), or use a function. In the mouse
version of Bots & (Main)Frames, players click UI
buttons to program (see Figure 1). In the tangibles
version, players instead physically connect wooden
blocks to program (see Figure 2). In the AR version,
players use a tablet to program and then physically
walk through space to enact the code execution. For all
versions, the graphics and gameplay are identical;
differing only in the way players program/execute code.
Related Work
Physical Embodiment
My research takes a broad perspective towards
embodiment: centering it around the notion that
human reasoning and behavior is connected to and
influenced by our bodies and their physical/social
experience and interaction with the world [40].
Applying this perspective in a meta-review comparing
and taxonomizing embodiment strategies [29], I
identified five different forms of physical embodiment:
1) Direct Embodied focuses on gestural congruency
and how the body can physically represent learning
concepts [20]; 2) Enacted focuses on acting
out/enacting knowledge through physical action (i.e.,
knowledge-as-action) [17]; 3) Manipulated focuses on
utilization of embodied metaphors and interactions with
physical objects [3], and the objects' physical
embodiment of learning concepts [19, 37]; 4)
Surrogate focuses on learners manipulating a physical
agent or "surrogate" representative of themselves to
enact learning concepts [7]; and 5) Augmented
focuses on combined use of a representational system
and augmented feedback system to embed the learner
within an augmented reality system [7].
Computational Thinking
CT is a complex construct with a wide variety of
definitions. However, [4, 5] have identified a core set of
CT skills commonly utilized in the literature as: 1)
Conditional Logic - the use of an “if-then-else”
construct; 2) Algorithm Building - a data “recipe” or set
of instructions; 3) Simulation - modeling or testing of
algorithms or logic; 4) Debugging - the act of
determining problems in order to fix rules that are
malfunctioning; and 5) Abstraction - use of procedures
to encapsulate a set of often repeated commands.
Tangibles and Computational Concepts
There has been some work in the tangible and
embodied interaction community on the creation of
tangibles to teach computing concepts such as roBlocks
[43], Note Code [25], Thingy Oriented Programming
[13], TanProRobot 2.0 [47], and Electronic Blocks [49].
However, concepts covered by these tools are focused
on physical computing, electronics, and music rather
than explicitly addressing programming or games.
Figure 2: The tangible
programming blocks version of
Bots & (Main)Frames.
Figure 3: The proposed AR
version of Bots & (Main)Frames.
Graduate Student Symposium
C&C 2017, June 27–30, 2017, Singapore
534
Completed and Ongoing Work
Completed Work
The goal of this research is to explore if applying
physically embodied designs results in improved
learning outcomes for core CT skills, increased
problem-solving performance and ability, and positive
emotional responses that are desirable for learning and
creativity (e.g., enjoyment, motivation, situational
interest, etc.). I have already laid the theoretical basis
for this examination through creation of a design
framework [29] and categorization of existing designs
[30] for embodied learning games and simulations.
Additionally, I conducted a preliminary study comparing
tangible programming blocks to mouse input, looking at
impacts upon players’ programming self-beliefs and
enjoyment [31]. While both mouse and tangible blocks
similarly improved self-beliefs, use of the tangible
blocks proved to be significantly more enjoyable.
Ongoing Work
Currently, I am conducting a larger 2x2 study
comparing individual and collaborative play with the
tangible blocks and mouse versions of Bots &
(Main)Frames. The study will examine problem-solving
performance on puzzle-based tasks (i.e., completion
speed and number of mistakes made), usage of
computational thinking concepts, influences from
collaboration, and changes in emotional responses (i.e.,
situational interest, programming self-beliefs, and
enjoyment). My hypothesis is that while the blocks may
prove slower for manipulation and problem-solving,
players will make fewer mistakes, have more positive
emotional responses, and demonstrate improved usage
of algorithm building and simulation CT skills since the
blocks will aid in externalizing cognition. Furthermore,
based on the beneficial notion of pair programming
[32], I also believe the positive effects will be further
enhanced in the collaborative condition.
Research Trajectory and Future Work
My aim is to create different versions of a puzzle-based
educational programming game called Bots &
(Main)Frames that utilize common forms of physical
embodiment—i.e., manipulated embodiment through
tangible programming blocks and enacted embodiment
through augmented reality. The versions will be
evaluated, compared, and refined across two major
studies with novice programmers. The first study is
described in Ongoing Work. For the second study, I will
compare the tangible programming blocks and mouse
versions of Bots & (Main)Frames to an AR version
where programming is touch-based on a tablet and
players enact execution of their code by walking
through physical space (see Figure 3). I plan to analyze
learning outcomes for these studies between-subjects
designs with video recording and qualitative analysis
[42] to identify occurrences of CT, collaboration, and
physical embodiment during play. This will be done in
conjunction with assessments of programming self-
beliefs [45], situational interest [35], and enjoyment to
compare increases in positive emotional responses.
Through this dissertation work, I expect to make the
following contributions: 1) empirical and artifact-based
contributions towards understanding the design space
of physically embodied educational games, in the form
of a design framework [29, 30] and CT games with
strategically varied interactional properties that have
been evaluated in between-subjects comparison
studies; and 2) new understanding concerning how
physical embodiment can impact meaning-making and
problem-solving during the learning process.
Graduate Student Symposium
C&C 2017, June 27–30, 2017, Singapore
535
References
1. Amory, A. et al. 1999. The use of computer games as
an educational tool: identification of appropriate game
types and game elements. British Journal of
Educational Technology. 30, 4 (1999), 311–321.
2. Antle, A.N. et al. 2008. Playing with The Sound Maker:
Do Embodied Metaphors Help Children Learn?
Proceedings of the 7th international conference on
Interaction design and children - IDC ’08 (2008), 178.
3. Bakker, S. et al. 2012. Embodied metaphors in
tangible interaction design. Personal and Ubiquitous
Computing (2012).
4. Barr, V. and Stephenson, C. 2011. Bringing
computational thinking to K-12: what is Involved and
what is the role of the computer science education
community? ACM Inroads.
5. Berland, M. and Lee, V.R. 2011. Collaborative
Strategic Board Games as a Site for Distributed
Computational Thinking. International Journal of
Game-Based Learning. 1, 2 (2011), 65–81.
6. Birchfield, D. et al. 2008. Embodiment, Multimodality,
and Composition: Convergent Themes across HCI and
Education for Mixed-Reality Learning Environments.
Advances in Human-Computer Interaction. 2008,
(2008), 1–19.
7. Black, J.B. et al. 2012. Embodied cognition and
learning environment design. Theoretical foundations
of learning environments. 198–223.
8. Blockly: A visual programming editor:
https://developers.google.com/blockly/. Accessed:
2016-10-09.
9. Burleson, W. 2005. Developing creativity, motivation,
and self-actualization with learning systems.
International Journal of Human Computer Studies. 63,
4–5 (2005), 436–451.
10. Dijkstra, E.W. and others 1989. On the cruelty of
really teaching computing science. Communications of
the ACM. 32, 12 (1989), 1398–1404.
11. Gnoli, A. et al. 2014. Back to the future: Embodied
Classroom Simulations of Animal Foraging.
Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on
Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction - TEI
’14 (2014), 275–282.
12. Green, G. and Kaufman, J.C. 2015. Video Games and
Creativity. Academic Press.
13. Güldenpfennig, F. et al. 2016. Toward Thingy Oriented
Programming: Recording Marcos With Tangibles.
Proceedings of the TEI’16: Tenth International
Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied
Interaction (2016), 455–461.
14. Harteveld, C. et al. 2014. A Design-Focused Analysis
of Games Teaching Computer Science. Proceedings of
Games+ Learning+ Society 10 (2014).
15. Hicks, A. et al. 2014. Building Games to Learn from
Their Players: Generating Hints in a Serious Game.
Intelligent Tutoring Systems: 12th International
Conference, ITS 2014, Honolulu, HI, USA, June 5-9,
2014. Proceedings. S. Trausan-Matu et al., eds.
Springer International Publishing. 312–317.
16. Hicks, A. 2012. Creation, evaluation, and presentation
of user-generated content in community game-based
tutors. Proceedings of the International Conference on
the Foundations of Digital Games - FDG ’12 (2012).
17. Holton, D.L. 2010. Constructivism + embodied
cognition = enactivism: theoretical and practical
implications for conceptual change. AERA 2010
Conference (2010).
18. Huggard, M. 2004. Programming trauma: Can it be
avoided. Proceedings of the BCS Grand Challenges in
Computing: Education. (2004), 50–51.
19. Ishii, H. 2008. Tangible bits: beyond pixels.
Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on
Tangible and Embedded Intreaction (TEI ’08) (2008).
20. Johnson-Glenberg, M.C. et al. 2014. Collaborative
embodied learning in mixed reality motion-capture
environments: Two science studies. Journal of
Educational Psychology. 106, 1 (2014), 86–104.
21. Kao, D. and Harrell, D.F. 2015. Mazzy: A STEM
Learning Game. Foundations of Digital Games (2015).
Graduate Student Symposium
C&C 2017, June 27–30, 2017, Singapore
536
22. Kelliher, A. et al. 2009. SMALLab: A mixed-reality
environment for embodied and mediated learning.
MM’09 - Proceedings of the 2009 ACM Multimedia
Conference, with Co-located Workshops and
Symposiums (2009), 1029–1031.
23. Kim, J. and Lerch, F.J. 1997. Why is programming
(sometimes) so difficult? Programming as scientific
discovery in multiple problem spaces. Information
Systems Research. 8, 1 (1997), 25–50.
24. Kinnunen, P. and Simon, B. 2010. Experiencing
programming assignments in CS1: the emotional toll.
Proceedings of the Sixth international workshop on
Computing education research (2010), 77–86.
25. Kumar, V. et al. 2015. Note Code – A Tangible Music
Programming Puzzle Tool. Proceedings of the 10th
International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and
Embodied Interaction - TEI ’15 (2015), 625–629.
26. Lode, H. et al. 2013. Machineers: playfully introducing
programming to children. CHI ’13 Human Factors in
Computing Systems (2013), 2639–2642.
27. Lubart, T.I. 2001. Models of the creative process:
Past, present and future. Creativity Research Journal.
13, 3–4 (2001), 295–308.
28. Melcer, E. 2017. Moving to Learn: Exploring the
Impact of Physical Embodiment in Educational
Programming Games. CHI’17 Extended Abstracts
(Denver, CO, USA, 2017).
29. Melcer, E. and Isbister, K. 2016. Bridging the Physical
Divide: A Design Framework for Embodied Learning
Games and Simulations. CHI’16 Extended Abstracts
(2016), 2225–2233.
30. Melcer, E. and Isbister, K. 2016. Bridging the Physical
Learning Divides: A Design Framework for Embodied
Learning Games and Simulations. Proceedings of the
1st International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG
(2016).
31. Melcer, E.F. et al. 2017. Tangibles vs . Mouse in
Educational Programming Games: Influences on
Enjoyment and Self-Beliefs. CHI’17 Extended Abstracts
(Denver, CO, USA, 2017).
32. Nagappan, N. et al. 2003. Improving the CS1
experience with pair programming. ACM SIGCSE
Bulletin. 35, 1 (2003), 359–362.
33. O’Malley, C. and Fraser, S. 2004. Literature review in
learning with tangible technologies.
34. Pea, R.D. 1983. Logo Programming and Problem
Solving.[Technical Report No. 12.]. ERIC.
35. Plass, J.L. et al. 2013. The impact of individual,
competitive, and collaborative mathematics game play
on learning, performance, and motivation. Journal of
Educational Psychology. 105, 4 (2013), 1050–1066.
36. Pouw, W.T.J.L. et al. 2014. An Embedded and
Embodied Cognition Review of Instructional
Manipulatives. Educational Psychology Review. 26, 1
(2014), 51–72.
37. Price, S. 2008. A representation approach to
conceptualizing tangible learning environments.
Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on
Tangible and embedded interaction TEI 08 (2008).
38. Price, S. et al. 2010. Action and representation in
tangible systems: implications for design of learning
interactions. Proceedings of the fourth international
conference on Tangible, embedded, and embodied
interaction - TEI ’10 (2010), 145–152.
39. Price, S. et al. 2008. Towards a framework for
investigating tangible environments for learning.
International Journal of Arts and Technology. 1, 3/4
(2008), 351–368.
40. Price, S. and Jewitt, C. 2013. A multimodal approach
to examining “embodiment” in tangible learning
environments. Proceedings of TEI ’13 (2013), 43–50.
41. Rogerson, C. and Scott, E. 2010. The fear factor: How
it affects students learning to program in a tertiary
environment. Journal of Information Technology
Education. 9, 1 (2010), 147–171.
42. Saldaña, J. 2015. The coding manual for qualitative
researchers. Sage.
43. Schweikardt, E. and Gross, M. 2008. The robot is the
program: interacting with roBlocks. Proceedings of the
Graduate Student Symposium
C&C 2017, June 27–30, 2017, Singapore
537
second international conference on Tangible,
embedded, and embodied interaction - TEI ’08 (2008).
44. Scott, M.J. and Ghinea, G. 2013. Educating
programmers: A reflection on barriers to deliberate
practice. Proceedings of the 2nd Annual HEA STEM
Conference (2013).
45. Scott, M.J. and Ghinea, G. 2014. Measuring
enrichment: the assembly and validation of an
instrument to assess student self-beliefs in CS1.
Proceedings of the tenth annual conference on
International computing education research (2014).
46. Shelley, T. et al. 2011. Evaluating the Embodiment
Benefits of a paper-based TUI for Spatially Sensitive
Simulations. Extended Abstracts of the 2011
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
(2011).
47. Wang, D. et al. 2016. A Tangible Embedded
Programming System to Convey Event-Handling
Concept. Proceedings of the TEI’16: Tenth
International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and
Embodied Interaction (2016), 133–140.
48. Webb, A.M. et al. 2013. Promoting reflection and
interpretation in education. Proceedings of the 9th
ACM Conference on Creativity & Cognition - C&C ’13
(2013), 53–62.
49. Wyeth, P. 2008. How Young Children Learn to Program
With Sensor, Action, and Logic Blocks. Journal of the
Learning Sciences. 17, 4 (2008), 517–550.
Graduate Student Symposium
C&C 2017, June 27–30, 2017, Singapore
538
Thesis
Full-text available
O pensamento computacional é tido como uma competência necessária para conviver e prosperar na sociedade contemporânea; no entanto, diversos desafios permeiam a sua implementação na sala de aula. Um deles refere-se a estratégias e materiais didáticos que deem suporte ao seu desenvolvimento na educação básica. Embora o pensamento computacional possa ser aplicado em diferentes áreas, a maioria dos estudos se concentrou no desenvolvimento de habilidades de programação, o que pode limitar o potencial de aplicação dessa competência computacional. Ainda, relativamente poucas pesquisas exploraram a relação entre atividades plugadas e desplugadas e as experiências de aprendizagem que elas geram nos estudantes. Ao focar em estratégias de aprendizagem, como cognição incorporada e contação de história, suportadas por essas abordagens, ainda menos estudos são identificados, apesar do potencial pedagógico de tais estratégias. Neste contexto, esta tese propõe uma abordagem para o desenvolvimento do pensamento computacional voltada ao Ensino Fundamental I. A pesquisa parte do pressuposto que fundamentar as atividades na cognição incorporada e no contexto cultural dos estudantes, estruturando-as em diferentes níveis cognitivos e distribuindo-as por meio de diferentes mídias possa repercutir positivamente sobre a aprendizagem. Ainda, que ao explorar uma narrativa infantil situada no contexto cultural dos estudantes pode permitir que eles se envolvam na compreensão de conceitos de Ciência da Computação e possam perceber sua aplicação na solução de problemas de outros domínios. Com o objetivo de identificar a viabilidade da proposta, um quase-experimento foi realizado com estudantes do 5º ano do ensino fundamental. Para tanto, um livro-jogo, intitulado sertão.bit, foi concebido, ancorado nos pressupostos teóricos adotados, o qual usa o sertão de Pernambuco como cenário para os desafios. Duas formas de implementação da abordagem proposta foram analisadas. Uma é pautada em atividades sem o uso de tecnologias digitais − desplugada − e a outra é apoiada em atividades híbridas, ou seja, com e sem o uso dessas tecnologias. Em ambos os casos, uma mesma história foi contada, bem como houve interação, em diferentes níveis de incorporação, entre os estudantes e o material didático que implementa a proposta. Como resultado, identificou-se que o grupo que implementou a abordagem pautada em atividades híbridas obteve melhor desempenho de aprendizagem e evidenciou, em seus diários reflexivos, maior satisfação na realização das atividades, se comparado ao grupo desplugado. De forma complementar, a experiência foi positivamente avaliada pela professora da turma, que relatou sua percepção quanto à aplicação da proposta em sua sala de aula.
Thesis
Full-text available
Embodiment is a concept that has gained widespread usage within the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) community in recent years. In a general sense, embodiment is the notion that cognition arises not just from the mind, but also through our bodies‘ physical and social interactions with the world around us. HCI has employed this body-centric approach to the design of technology in a variety of domains, including interaction design, robotics, music systems, and education. However, due to the broad number of academic domains that define and operationalize embodiment within HCI (e.g., cognitive science, social science, learning science, neuroscience, AI, robotics, and so forth), it has become a remarkably fuzzy term with little understood about what designs result in desired outcomes. Essentially, HCI researchers and practitioners often employ a black box of design decisions when creating their embodied systems. Notably, the inconsistent framing and application of embodiment within HCI is a substantial drawback when trying to design embodied technology to support particular use cases such as learning, where understanding the 'why' of outcomes is essential. In this dissertation, I contribute work towards opening up the black box of embodied design to develop a more precise understanding of its proper application for the development of learning technology. This was done through the creation of a taxonomical design framework that outlines key methods for incorporating embodiment into the design of educational games and simulations. In order to create the design framework, I collected over 60 exemplars of embodied learning games and simulations, followed by the application of a bottom up, open coding method to distill seven core design dimensions. I then demonstrated the design framework‘s importance for a variety of HCI use cases including 1) categorizing existing embodied educational technologies, 2) identifying problematic design spaces, and 3) identifying design gaps for the generation of novel embodied learning systems. I also further employed the design framework to develop my own embodied learning system, Bots & (Main)Frames, which teaches basic programming and computational thinking skills through the use of tangibles. In order to better understand when and how embodied tangible technology can aid learning, I built two versions of Bots & (Main)Frames that only differed in input method (non-embodied mouse vs. embodied tangible programming blocks), while keeping all other game mechanics, aesthetics, and so forth identical. I then conducted two controlled experimental studies to compare differences between the two versions of Bots & (Main)Frames. My results show that an embodied tangible design had far greater positive impact for a number of key learning factors including programming self-beliefs, situational interest, enjoyment, and overall learning/performance outcomes. The quantitative and qualitative findings from these studies make key advances toward understanding when and how embodied tangible technology can aid in learning computational thinking skills.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Computer Science (CS) and related skills such as programming and Computational Thinking (CT) have recently become topics of global interest, with a large number of programming games created to engage and educate players. However, there has been relatively limited work to assess 1) the efficacy of such games with respect to critical educational factors such as enjoyment and programming self-beliefs; and 2) whether there are advantages to alternative, physically embodied design approaches (e.g., tangibles as input). To better explore the benefits of a tangible approach, we built and tested two versions of an educational programming game that were identical in design except for the form of interaction (tangible programming blocks vs. mouse input). After testing 34 participants, results showed that while both game versions were successful at improving programming self-beliefs, the tangible version corresponded to higher self-reports of player enjoyment. Overall, this paper presents a comparison between the efficacy of tangible and mouse design approaches for improving key learning factors in educational programming games.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
There has been increasing attention paid to the necessity of Computational Thinking (CT) and CS education in recent years. To address this need, a broad spectrum of animation programming environments and games have been created to engage learners. However, most of these tools are designed for the touchpad/mouse and keyboard, and few have been evaluated to assess their efficacy in developing CT/programming skills. This is problematic when trying to understand the validity of such designs for CS education, and whether there are alternative approaches that may prove more effective. My dissertation work helps address this problem. After creating a framework based on a meta-review that carefully dissects embodiment strategies in learning games, I am building and evaluating tangible and augmented reality versions of a CT game. I plan to examine how these different forms of physical interaction help to facilitate and enhance meaning-making during the learning process, and whether/how they improve related learning factors such as self-beliefs and enjoyment.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We introduce the concept of Thingy Oriented Programming (TOP), which is an experimental and alternative approach to prototyping simple electronics applications and systems that involve networks of sensors and actuators. TOP enables the users to define or 'program' (wirelessly) connected objects. While this approach allows powerful physical and interactive applications, no professional skills are needed since TOP-programs are defined by recording sequences of tangible interactions (i.e., interaction macros). Our primary target groups are designers who want to augment their physical prototypes with interactivity in little time, as well as end-users who are interested in enhancing specific tasks in their (smart) homes (e.g., creating a switch which turns on/off the lights by clapping twice the hands). A third target group is comprised of children and their educators in computer science and electronics. We describe the TOP concept including use scenarios, demonstrate a proof-of-concept prototype and explain our next intended steps.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Due to a broad conceptual usage of the term embodiment across a diverse variety of research domains, existing embodied learning games and simulations utilize a large breadth of design approaches that often result in seemingly unrelated systems. This becomes problematic when trying to critically evaluate the usage and effectiveness of embodiment within existing designs, as well as when trying to utilize embodiment in the design of new games and simulations. In this paper, we present our work on combining differing conceptual and design approaches for embodied learning systems into a unified design framework. We describe the creation process for the framework, explain its dimensions, and provide examples of its use. Our design framework will benefit educational game researchers by providing a unifying foundation for the description, categorization, and evaluation of designs for embodied learning games and simulations.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Existing embodied learning games and simulations utilize a large breadth of design approaches that often result in the creation of seemingly unrelated systems. This becomes problematic when trying to critically evaluate the usage and effectiveness of embodiment within embodied learning designs. In this paper, we present our work on combining differing conceptual and design approaches for embodied learning systems into a unified design framework. We describe the creation process for the framework, explain its dimensions, and provide two examples of its use. Our embodied learning games and simulations framework will benefit HCI researchers by providing a unifying foundation for the description, categorization, and evaluation of embodied learning systems and designs.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present the design of Note Code -- a music programming puzzle game designed as a tangible device coupled with a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Tapping patterns and placing boxes in proximity enables programming these "note-boxes" to store sets of notes, play them back and activate different sub-components or neighboring boxes. This system provides users the opportunity to learn a variety of computational concepts, including functions, function calling and recursion, conditionals, as well as engage in composing music. The GUI adds a dimension of viewing the created programs and interacting with a set of puzzles that help discover the various computational concepts in the pursuit of creating target tunes, and optimizing the program made.
Conference Paper
Learning programming has positive effect on children's development, and Tangible User Interfaces (TUIs) is a convenient way for teaching young children programming. TanProRobot 2.0 is a tangible system as well as a small-scale distributed embedded system designed for children at grades 1-2 to learn programming concepts. The system consists of three parts: tangible programming blocks, a robot car and several manipulatives. The input and output of the system are both tangible. Children can program the robot car to act certain actions by arranging the programming blocks. Also, children can interact with the car with manipulatives. TanProRobot 2.0 aims to introduce event handling concept and sensors to children. Through a user study with 11 children, we found that TanProRobot 2.0 is an interesting programming system for children, and it is easy to learn and to use. Furthermore, it could help children get a preliminary understanding of event handling concepts.
Article
The creative process, one of the key topics discussed in Guilford's (1950) address to the American Psychological Association and his subsequent work, refers to the sequence of thoughts and actions that leads to novel, adaptive productions. This article examines conceptions of the creative process that have been advocated during the past century. In particular, stage-based models of the creative process are discussed and the evolution of these models is traced. Empirical research suggests that the basic 4-stage model of the creative process may need to be revised or replaced. Several key questions about the creative process are raised, such as how the creative process differs from the noncreative process and how process-related differences may lead to different levels of creative performance. New directions for future research are identified.
Article
The creative process, one of the key topics discussed in Guilford's (1950) address to the American Psychological Association and his subsequent work, refers to the sequence of thoughts and actions that leads to novel, adaptive productions. This article examines conceptions of the creative process that have been advocated during the past century. In particular, stage-based models of the creative process are discussed and the evolution of these models is traced. Empirical research suggests that the basic 4-stage model of the creative process may need to be revised or replaced. Several key questions about the creative process are raised, such as how the creative process differs from the noncreative process and how process-related differences may lead to different levels of creative performance. New directions for future research are identified.