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Game-Theme Based Instructional Modules for Computer Science Students in VR

Current Students: James Stigall, Sarika Rajeev, Emmanuel Ossuetta, Alonzo Ouzts

Past Students: Gema Howell, Antoine Lathon,Stanley Woodroff, and Kim Ta

Status: Current

The goal of this project is to create course curriculum modules for computer science and mathematics students. Engineering and Mathematic courses are typically considered as difficult by college students and exhibit high failure rate. Due to the complication and abstract nature of computer hardware, it is a challenge for students to understand the principles and concepts related to computer organization.  The aim is to create instructional course curriculum modules with more inquiry based problem-solving activities and hand-on experiences based on Gaming and Virtual Reality. We will create modules for arrays, linked list, memory mangament, trees, binary search, stacks, queues, etc.

Instructional Modules 1: Linked List Instructional Module

Virtual reality instructional modules are widely recognized in academia because they engage students and motivate them to learn by hands-on experience. For this reason, we have developed Game Theme based Instructional (GTI) modules for the teaching linked list that can provide a better understanding of the concept than with a traditional instruction approach. We have developed and evaluated of the GTI gaming module, which adds more inquiry-based problem-solving activities and hands-on experiences based on gaming and virtual reality.

   
   

The GTI modules act as a supplement to an existing course and enables faculty to explore teaching with a game-theme metaphor. The linked list module was implemented using the Python programming language within the Vizard Virtual Reality Toolkit, a Python-based integrated development environment (IDE) used to develop virtual reality applications. 

 

Instructional Modules 2: OOPS (Object Oriented Programming) Instructional Module

This research focuses on the development of a game theme-based educational module that helps novice students understand object-oriented programming (OOP) concepts, specifically, encapsulation, polymorphism, and inheritance.  This effort is motivated by the popularity and effectiveness of educational games.  The module was implemented using Python within Vizard, a virtual reality development toolkit.  Three-dimensional (3D) models featured in the module were created in 3ds Max 2014, a 3D modeling and animation software application.  The results demonstrate that the module helped students learn OOP concepts and found the module user-friendly. During the Fall 2014 semester, the module was evaluated with undergraduate students in a programming course. The students experimented with the module and took a survey afterwards. Survey data demonstrates that the module makes a significant educational impact on students. [ Click Here for Poster]

   
   

 

Instructional Modules 3: Stacks and Queue

The binary search module begins with a tutorial on binary search.  The tutorial consists of a prompt explaining how to do binary search. Once the player completes the tutorial, he or she proceeds to the first round of the game. 

   
   
Binary Search Module Binary Search Module

The user proceeds to the first part of the GTI module where they must uncover the green ball located underneath the middle cup. This represents the first part of the binary search algorithm, which states that the middle element within a given array must be searched first. The GTI modules act as a supplement to an existing course and enables faculty to explore teaching with a game-theme metaphor. The linked list module was implemented using the Python programming language within the Vizard Virtual Reality Toolkit, a Python-based integrated development environment (IDE) used to develop virtual reality applications

 

Instructional Modules 4: Duck Game for Loop Statements

The goal is to design and develop Gaming Learning Module that teaches students how to use different condition statements (if/else, nested if/else, while loops, for-loops, & switches). The game shows the action and reaction to each condition, as well as a display of the code for the user to reference. It is created using 3ds Max and Worldviz Vizard. The duck court background was designed in 3ds max. After the design of the models, the finished product was exported to Vizard as a .ive file. The ducks and beach ball were an inbuilt 3d object from Vizard. Our hypothesis is that the use of instructional modules will lead to better student learning outcomes. We have conducted user studies for four semester to prove our hypothesis. We intend to build an interactive module to help students get a better grasp of what an array structure should be, and how its functions could be implemented. Our proposed educational module was developed using WorldViz Vizard toolkit.

   
   

We have evaluated the GTI modules in introductory programming courses during the semesters for computer science students. The student survey baseline results demonstrate positive student perceptions about the use of gaming instructional modules to advance student learning and understanding of the concepts. The results of the evaluation of GTI modules also demonstrate the effectiveness of instructional modules and the possibility to include them in the existing curriculum with minimum alterations to the existing established course material.

Gaming resources impact on student learning Array Instructional Module - Conceptual Understanding Content Areas

Duck Instructional Module: Conceptual Understanding Content Areas

Duck and Array Instructional Modules Impact on Enhanced Student Learning
We developed online surveys to collect student data in computer Science I and II in which the modules were being implemented for the first time.  Less than a third of students reported a significant impact of the instructional modules on their learning with 24% and 21% reporting a level of excellent for the Duck and Array modules respectively. While students were positive about the modules’ impact on learning, most students reported satisfactory effects (i.e., good).
Duck and Array Instructional Modules Impact on Understanding Concepts The contribution of the instructional modules on students’ understanding of key concepts was more pronounced than the impact associated with enhancement of students’ overall learning.

Students responded more positively to the Duck module than the Array. Eighty-six percent of students reported a good to excellent level of impact associated with the Duck instructional module compared to 79% for the Array module. In terms of extent of impact, most students reported a satisfactory level (i.e., “good) at 62% and 58% for the duck and Array instructional modules respectively. The interpretation of the Likert scale used on these surveys did not include the rating of “Very Good”, typically included in a Poor to Excellent continuum. This analysis therefore defines the rating scale in relationship to impact as follows: Excellent=Significant, [Very Good=Substantial], Good=Satisfactory, Fair=Moderate, Poor=Minimal.

 

Instructional Modules 5: Multidimensional Array Game

The goal of this project is to create Virtual Reality course educational modules with more inquiry based problem-solving activities and hand-on experiences. Programming courses are typically considered as difficult by college students and exhibit high failure rate. Through the use of this gaming instructional modules students will be able to learn the concepts of multidimensional arrays better and lead them to better success.

   
   

Our proposed instructional module uses a gaming metaphor in demonstrating the concepts of Multidimensional Arrays and objects. The proposed model is designed and developed using 3Ds Max and Vizard. We have created a 3D grid table as a structured array, with the help of standby avatar created as an instructor; users would be able to navigate their way through the game module. First the avatar introduces the concept of the game and then the user clicks the “Enter” button to begin the game. Also, on the left side on the screen, there is a list of object tools the user would use as data example for the array grid table.

We will be conducting user studies to evaluate if the module leads to a better learning outcome and if the students are able to grasp the concepts better using a gaming metaphor.

Instructional Modules 6: Mail-Box Array Game

The goal is to design and develop Gaming Learning Module that teaches students the concepts of arrays. It is created using Unity 3D and 3ds Max.

 
 
The above course module is to teach single and multi-dimensional arrays.
 

Instructional Modules 7: Computer Organization

The goal is to design and develop Gaming Learning Module that teaches students the different parts of a computer. For example power supply, memory storage by interacting with the computer in Virtual Reality. It is created using VRML and 3ds Max.

 

 
  Course module for showing power supply in the computer Course module for memory storage
 

Publications

  • Rajeev, S., Sharma, S, Sahu, A., "Game Theme Based Instructional Module to teach Binary Trees Data Structure", proceedings of ISCA 26th International Conference on Software Engineering and Data Engineering (SEDE-2017), San Diego,CA, USA, October 2-4, 2017. (Accepted).
  • Stigall, J., Sharma, S.,"Virtual Reality Instructional Modules for Introductory Programming Courses ", proceedings of IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC),pages: 33- 41, DOI:978-1-5090-5379-7/17, Princeton, New Jersey, Saturday, March 11, 2017.
  • Sharma, S., Ossuetta, E., "Virtual Reality Instructional Modules in Education Based on Gaming Metaphor", Explore the Future of Electronic Imaging at the 29th Annual Symposium, 2017 IS&T International Symposium on Electronic Imaging (EI 2017), The Engineering Reality of Virtual Reality 2017, Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, Burlingame, California, 29 January- 2 February 2017.
  • Sharma, S., Stigall, J., Rajeev, S., "Game–Theme Based Instructional Module for Teaching Object Oriented Programming", proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Computational Science and Computational Intelligence (CSCI), Las Vegas, USA, Page 252-257, DOI 10.1109/CSCI.2015.3, December 7-9, 2015.
  • James Stigal and Dr. Sharad Sharma, "Game Theme-Based Educational Modules for Introductory Programming Courses", Oral Presentation, at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), hosted by AAAS, EHR and NSF, Washington DC, February 19-21, 2015.
  • Jeff Ruffin Jr and Dr. Sharad Sharma, "Game Theme Based Educational Module for Inheritance", Oral Presentation, at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), hosted by AAAS, EHR and NSF, Washington DC, February 19-21, 2015.
  • Jeff Ruffin Jr.and Dr. Sharad Sharma, "Educational Module: Programming Loops and Conditions Using Virtual Reality", Oral Presentation, at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), hosted by AAAS, EHR and NSF, Washington DC, February 20-22, 2014.
  • Antoine Lathon and Dr. Sharad Sharma, "Course Curriculum Module for Multidimensional Array and Linked List using Gaming Approach", Oral Presentation, at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), hosted by AAAS, EHR and NSF, Washington DC, February 28th - March 2nd, 2013.
  • Kim Ta and Dr. Sharad Sharma, "Gaming Approach to Learn Arrays In C++", Oral Presentation, at the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), hosted by AAAS, EHR and NSF, Washington DC, February 28th - March 2nd, 2013.


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