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Learning Binary Search Trees through Serious Games based on Analogies

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Conference Paper
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A large number of games are available to students and instructors that aid in developing a basic understanding of how to read and write programs. In this paper we review the existing serious programming game literature and examine the educational content and game evaluations of 49 games. First, we assess all games with respect to the programming fundamentals specified in the ACM 2013 Computer Science Curricula guidelines. Next, we review how each game is evaluated with respect to likability, accessibility, learning effect and engagement. In addition to the evaluated research questions, we also review the research methods used in the evaluations. Based on the results of our survey we conclude by identifying a number of open problems in the serious programming games literature.
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In this paper we present work-in-progress on developing an educational game for teaching Stacks as part of a Data Structures course. We first present a review of the published related work and then describe our approach to the development of the Stack game. As an essential part of the design, we discuss in detail the requirements to the game. We also describe the developed parts of this intriguing puzzle game with realistic 3D graphics that covers all aspects of teaching the Stack data structure, from concept to use to implementation.
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The advent in technology in the past few years allowed an improvement in the educational area, as the increasing in the development of educational system. One of the techniques that emerged in this lapse is called Gamification, defined as the utilization of video game mechanics outside its bounds. Researchers in this area found positive results in the application of these concepts in several areas from marketing to education. In education, there are researches that covers from elementary to higher education, with many variations to adequate to the educators methodologies. Among higher education, focusing on IT courses, Data Structures can be considered an important subject to be taught, as they are base for many systems. Based on the exposed this paper describes the development and implementation of an interactive web learning environment, called DSLEP (Data Structure Learning Platform), to support students in higher education IT courses. The system includes basic concepts taught on this discipline as stacks, queues, lists, arrays, trees and was implemented to receive new ones. The system is also implemented with gamification concepts, as points, levels, and leader boards, to motivate students in the learning process and stimulate self-learning.
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Teaching and learning recursion can be a difficult task, there are many problems that can occur and too often the wrong model is transferred to student. Many teachers are misusing the concept of learning recursion through the thought game "Towers of Hanoi" where the basic principle remains a mystery for the students. In this article we are trying to present a new approach to teach recursion through simple game. The basis is the experiment that we implemented on students of first year of computer science. The game is trying to teach the basic concept of recursion by developing model of thinking. We conducted a study with computer science students of first year to measure the impact of the game on learning and on attitudes toward educational games with a simple satisfaction questionnaire. Our results show new ways for further development and understanding this type of teaching. The game has been built using newest HTML 5 standards, and it was built according to SCORM (eng. Sharable Content Object Referent Model) specifications so it could be used on many different LMS (eng. Learning Management Systems).
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We present EleMental: The Recurrence, a novel game that provides computer science students the opportunity to write code and perform interactive visualizations to learn about recursion through depth-first search of a binary tree. We designed the game to facilitate maximum transfer of learning to writing real programs, while also providing for interactive visualizations. We conducted a study with computer science majors to measure the impact of the game on learning and on attitudes toward educational games. Our results demonstrate the enthusiasm students have for learning games and provide insight into how such games should be constructed.
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Data structures and algorithms are important foundation topics in computer science education. However, they are often complex and hard to understand. Therefore, we introduce a new learning strategy that benefits from computer games' popularity and engagement to help students understand algorithms better by designing computer games that visualize algorithms. To teach an algorithm, an educational computer game, namely an algorithm game, must have a game-play that simulates the behavior of the visualized algorithm and graphics depict the features of its data structure.
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A motivated student is more likely to be a successful learner. Interesting assignments encourage student learning by actively engaging them in the material. Active student learning is especially important in an introductory data structures course where students learn the fundamentals of programming. In this paper, the author describes a project for a data structures course based on the idea of competitive programming. Competitive programming motivates student learning by allowing students to evaluate and improve their programs throughout an assignment by competing their code against instructor-defined code and the code of other students in a tournament environment. Pedagogical results indicate that the combination of game development and friendly student competition is a significant motivator for increased student performance.
Conference Paper
Linked lists play an important role in learning basic Computer Science (CS) concepts among a number of different data structures. They are the basis for more complex data structures such as tree data structures. Recursion, stacks and queues can be effectively implemented using linked lists. We observe over the years that our students struggle with linked lists more than some other data structures. While students understand the concepts of stack and queue data structures faster, they need more time to understand and visualize the linked list and its operation algorithms. This paper presents a game-like instructional module called Space Traveler that aims to assist students to better understand and master the concepts of linked lists. Four CS undergraduate students developed it using GameMaker Studio in three months. The Space Traveler game looks like a classic snake game. The game supports practicing the linked list operations such as insertion, search and deletion. This paper presents the game design and implementation in detail and shares our experiences using this module in the CSC2331 Data Structure class at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) in 2014. This module has been refined based on the feedback from students and instructors. The refined version will be used again in the upcoming semesters. A pretest, a posttest and a survey were developed and used in the evaluation process. In addition, a lab assignment was designed to accompany the game module. Initial assessment outcomes showed very promising student improvements as a result of the use of this game module in the classroom. The module has been made available online to benefit students at other institutions.
In recent years, there has been growing interest in the use of digital games to enhance teaching and learning at all educational levels, from early years through to lifelong learning, in formal and informal settings. The study of games and learning, however, takes a broader view of the relationship between games and learning, and has a diverse multi-disciplinary background. Digital Games and Learning: Research and Theory provides a clear and concise critical theoretical overview of the field of digital games and learning from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Taking into account research and theory from areas as varied as computer science, psychology, education, neuroscience, and game design, this book aims to synthesise work that is relevant to the study of games and learning. It focuses on four aspects of digital games: games as active learning environments, games as motivational tools, games as playgrounds, and games as learning technologies, and explores each of these areas in detail. This book is an essential guide for researchers, designers, teachers, practitioners, and policy makers who want to better understand the relationship between games and learning.
Conference Paper
This study investigates how computer games impact on student learning and technology acceptance. A curriculum was designed for college students majoring in Computer Science. Participants included college teachers and students. Two groups of students participated in the learning activities by using gaming and non-gaming methods separately in the course. The proposed computer game helps students engage with learning activities. During the study, learning activities, surveys, and interviews were conducted with students. The evaluation results concerning technology acceptance demonstrate that incorporating gaming methods into the learning process can get better technology acceptance.
Game-based assignments typically form an integral component of computer programming courses. The effectiveness of the assignments in motivating students to carry out repetitive programming tasks is somewhat limited since their outcomes are invariably limited to a simple win or loss scenario. Accordingly, this paper develops a simulation environment in which students can create a game strategy via programming for a challenging strategy-type game. After completion of the game, the environment provides the student with a set of metrics that provides helpful clues as to how the student might reprogram the strategy to improve the result. The provided metrics help to avoid a tedious trial-and-error refinement process and, therefore, greatly motivate the student to complete the assignment and achieve a better result. The simulation environment can be used in either a standalone mode or in an interactive mode in which the students compete against one another online. The competition element increases the motivation of the students to complete the task to the best of their ability.
A Tool for Teaching Advanced Data Structures to Computer Science Students: An Overview of the BDP System
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