Quantitative and qualitative data relevant to the key research questions indicate that: 1) SA motivates and engages middle school students; 2) the use of challenges (checklists guiding students through various aspects of game design) is an effective way to teach game design using SA; 3) training is needed for teachers to support students in learning game design using SA; and 4) pair programming is a useful approach to teaching students to design games using SA. In summary, the findings from this pilot study suggest that: 1) SA can be used by middle-school students with limited computer experience to build games; 2) this process can engage students in some critical aspects of IT fluency: algorithmic thinking, modeling, and abstraction; and 3) further research is needed to determine whether programming a computer game leads to gains computational thinking, and under what conditions pair programming produces greater gains.
Papers have been accepted at four national conferences:
Denner, J., Martinez, J. & Werner, L. (2009, March). Teaching computer game design to middle school students. Game Developers’ Conference. San Francisco.
Werner, L., Denner, J., Bliesner, M. & Rex, P. (2009, April) Can middle-school students use Storytelling Alice to make games? Results of a pilot study. Fourth International Conference on the Foundation of Digital Games, Port Canaveral, FL.
Denner, J., Malyn-Smith, J. & Werner, L. (2009, April). Information and communications technology fluency: Defining and measuring standards in middle school. American Educational Research Association. San Diego, CA.
Denner, J., Werner, L., & Rex, P. (2009, June). Teaching computer game design using Storytelling Alice. National Educational Computing Conference. Washington, DC.
We are finishing up a one-year curriculum for educators to teach students how to create games using Storytelling Alice.