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Can Playing a Video Game Foster Computational Thinking Skills?

Title: Can Playing a Video Game Foster Computational Thinking Skills?.

Inaccessible until Sep 27, 2020 due to copyright restrictions.

Name(s): Zhao, Weinan, author
Shute, Valerie J. (Valerie Jean), 1953-, professor directing dissertation
Dennis, Lawrence Carl, university representative
Reiser, Robert A., committee member
Ke, Fengfeng, committee member
Almond, Russell G., committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Education, degree granting college
Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Doctoral Thesis
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2017
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (101 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Computational thinking is increasingly recognized as an important skill set to learn for people living in the 21st century, and the middle school years comprise a critical stage to introduce children to computational thinking. Video game based learning is a promising way to foster computational thinking among middle school students, however, it is relatively less researched compared to other methods. In this dissertation study, I evaluated the effectiveness of a video game Penguin Go on developing middle school students’ computational thinking skills, as well as on improving their attitudes toward computer science. I designed Penguin Go to cover the core components of computational thinking, including problem decomposition, abstraction, algorithmic thinking, conditional logic, iterative thinking, and debugging. I implemented the game based on Blockly, a block-based programming language. The game was evaluated with 43 middle school students during two weeks. In addition to the overall effectiveness of the game, I aimed to investigate the impact of a specific game feature—constraints on the number of blocks in a solution—on both students’ computational thinking skills and their attitudes toward computer science. Results showed that after playing Penguin Go for less than two hours, students’ computational thinking skills improved significantly, however, the additional constraints did not generate a significant impact on learning gains. Also, the game did not bring about significant attitudinal changes among students. The additional constraints, however, resulted in a significant negative change in students attitudes toward computer science. Implications of the findings and possible directions for future research regarding using these types of games to foster computational thinking are discussed.
Identifier: FSU_FALL2017_Zhao_fsu_0071E_14222 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester 2017.
Date of Defense: November 1, 2017.
Keywords: block-based programming language, blockly, computational thinking, computer science, game-based learning, problem solving
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Valerie J. Shute, Professor Directing Dissertation; Lawrence C. Dennis, University Representative; Robert A. Reiser, Committee Member; Fengfeng Ke, Committee Member; Russell George Almond, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Educational technology
Computer science
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Zhao, W. (2017). Can Playing a Video Game Foster Computational Thinking Skills? Retrieved from