Title

Teaching Problem-Solving Skills Through Game-Design: Game-Design and Learning Courses

First Presenter's Institution

NA

Second Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

The game-design and learning (GDL) programs offers young students a chance to get hands-on experience in a important skill: design. Design tasks are good examples of problem-solving, through GDL courses, students get to work on solving complex problems. This research-based curriculum has also significant outcomes related to STEM skills. For example, students, through game-design, also develop important programming skills. In summary, GDL courses are research-based examples of technology-rich environments that can be offered to youth-at-risk to support their development in important thinking and STEM skills.

Brief Program Description

In this presentation, I will describe the design, development, and implementation of Game-design and learning (GDL) courses, research-based technology-rich environments that are offered to middle-school students to support their development in important thinking and STEM skills.

Summary

Games, and the game-design process, have received attention from researchers and educators due to their potential to serve as contexts to teach design and problem-solving skills for several reasons. First, games are inherently attractive for young children (Gee, 2003; Papastergiou, 2009; Prensky, 2003). The process of game-design, therefore, has a natural appeal, because the outcome of the process (i.e., the games) is meaningful and fun for the creators. This makes the process of game-design enjoyable and intrinsically motivating as the students get to work on things that they personally value. Designing learning environments to teach children digital game-design, while also aiming to teach thinking skills such as problem-solving, requires going through a rigorous process of instructional design, and integration of technology. The instructional design process requires bringing different variables together to work in harmony: theories, pedagogies, and technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Integrating technology into teaching introduces an additional variable into the mix, and makes this process more complex (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). For this reason, in educational technology, “design” is front and center, requiring the process to be based on theory, grounded in data, and focused on problem-solving (Smith & Boling, 2009). In this presentation, I will present information regarding the design and implementation of a technology-rich learning environment for middle-school students: Game-design and Learning courses (GDL). Since its inception in 2011, I have offered GDL courses to more than hundred students, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Through GDL curriculum, students learn, in an engaging way, the basics of digital game-design, programming, and more importantly complex problem solving. In my research, I have shown how the curriculum used at the GDL courses successfully reached these outcomes. In the current paper, I detail how such a technology-rich environment can be built, giving participants some concrete examples that they can take home and use, also some instructional design concepts that they can utilize while building their own.

Evidence

GDL programs have been offered to more than 100 students in both the US and, internationally, Istanbul, Turkey. Students from various backgrounds, including disadvantaged families, participated in the courses. To support its instructional effectiveness, I have conducted a series of systematic analysis of the gains the students show in their problem-solving skills. My recent work showing students' gains in problem-solving have been published in Computers and Education, and Educational Technology Research and Development journals. Akcaoglu, M., & Koehler, M. J. (2014). Cognitive Outcomes from the Game-Design and Learning (GDL) After-School Program. Computers & Education, 75, 72–81. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2014.02.003

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Mete Akcaoglu is an assistant professor of Instructional Technology at Georgia Southern University, Leadership, Technology, and Human Development Department, Currently, where he teaches educational psychology and instructional technology courses at the online Instructional Technology master's program. His research focuses on designing innovative and technology-rich learning environments to teach young children important higher-order thinking skills. A recent example of this work is Game Design and Learning (GDL) courses that he initiated and has been running in both the US and Turkey.

Keyword Descriptors

game-design, programming, problem-solving, STEM

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Teaching Problem-Solving Skills Through Game-Design: Game-Design and Learning Courses

Harborside Center East and West

In this presentation, I will describe the design, development, and implementation of Game-design and learning (GDL) courses, research-based technology-rich environments that are offered to middle-school students to support their development in important thinking and STEM skills.