Making Educational Games That Work in The Classroom

Making Educational Games That Work in The Classroom

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The development of analytical skills is a central goal of the Next Generation Science Standards and foundational to subject mastery in STEM fields. Yet, significant barriers exist to students gaining such skills. Here we describe a new “gentleslope” cyberlearning strategy that gradually introduces students to the authoring of scientific simulations via a Web-based modding approach called CyberMOD. Modding involves adding agents with predefined functionality to a simulation world to produce a unique combination whose behavior can then be visualized by running the simulation. This permits low barrier experimentation on the modded simulation, which is hoped to help students gain a deeper understanding of scientific phenomena that is the focus of the activity. Our research questions are: i) does this approach encourage students’ interest in computational science and ii) does it enhance their analytical abilities, and iii) does it foster a deeper understanding of the processes modded? Here we take an in-depth look at what was created for the CyberMOD infrastructure and analyze the results of initial in-class studies as to the effectiveness of this strategy. The results support the premise that teachers can easily integrate CyberMOD into their in-class activities, that CyberMOD activities encourage creative student learning, and that the CyberMOD approach facilitates student understanding.

Alexander Repenning, Ashok Basawapatna, and Michael Klymkowsky presentation at the 2013 IEEE Games Innovation conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, September 2013.