Date of Award
Master of Science
Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering
Human Computer Interaction
The game Sorceress of Seasons was developed to teach fundamental concepts of python programming to middle school students with the goal of increasing enthusiasm in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, especially for middle school female students.
Currently there is a significant lack of professionals in STEM fields in the United States. Specifically, women are underrepresented in STEM fields, despite making up half of the workforce. Career interests are often developed in the middle school years; thus increase the pool of STEM professionals, , it is necessary to spark interest in STEM at an early age.
A Game based learning (GBL) approach was used to increase interest in STEM for middle school females. GBL is an effective approach as it utilizes gameplay with educational content to create and engaging environment where students can practice concepts in a real world context. However, computer and video games have historically portrayed females in stereotypical and unhelpful ways. As a result many of female gamers are hesitant from playing certain games, experience negative gaming experiences when they do play certain games, and detracts from the number of female gamers. Thus before any game could be developed, first developed game design requirements that would result in games that are welcoming to girls as well as effective in its learning goals.
Based on these requirements, the game Sorceress of Seasons (SOS) was developed to teach the concepts of variables, lists (arrays), and if statements. The game was then assessed with a group of middle school children in an evaluation. The goal of the evaluation was to verify that the requirements created a game that was welcoming to girls, that the game was effective in teaching some basic programming concepts, that exposure to the game increased interest in STEM, and that the gains endured. Students took surveys immediately before and after playing the game.
From this, several of the requirements were supported based on feedback from students. Overall, student comprehension in programming concepts increased from the Pre-Experimental Assessment to the Post-Game Survey. Specifically, findings suggest that students comprehend the concept for variables better than the other two concepts.
Desmond Carletus Bonner
Bonner, Desmond Carletus, "A game-based learning approach to increase female participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields" (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 14781.