As previously described, our first game for our fall experiment covered the computer science concept of data representation with images. This post summarizes some of the game-day observations made of the participants.
Before splitting into abstract and story groups, the girls participated in a pre-assessment and attitude survey. We noticed as soon as the assessments were given out, the girls’ excitement began to fade away. It did not help that the assessment took longer than we expected. We had originally hoped to make the assessment more game-like, but did not have time to explore this. It may be worth another look before our spring sessions.
Note that all game levels are described in detail here. It may be worth reviewing the rules first to better interpret the results below.
On their first day, the abstract group played an introduction matching game and the level one game without any accompanying context or story. They liked the fact that the game felt similar to Battleship, but did not enjoy the number of assessments they had to complete.
The beginning of the level 1 game was a bit slow because the students were still familiarizing themselves with the rules, but it gradually picked up and they seemed to be enjoying it. By the time one of the assistants announced that we would be ending soon for snack, it was clear they didn’t want to stop. Despite this enthusiasm, none of the girls finished, so there were no winners. A smaller image size might help avoid this problem in the future, though it must still be large enough to represent an interesting image with a sufficient number of runs.
On the second day the girls played levels two and three. The girls felt that they had fun with the second level, but that it was too easy – they preferred the previous week’s level 1 game. Players finished the second level quickly, with all groups scoring 9/9 points.
For level 3 on the second day, players were confused by the setup of the paper where they had to write their encodings. It was too cluttered and has unnecessary text on it. Some players seemed to have difficulty with moving from an image to encoding rather than the other way. For this level, a few players asked for individual clarification on what to do.
Overall, players showed an interest in computer science and wanted more information about the games and learning materials for themselves and their friends. One player was upset we wouldn’t be coming back next year. Participants seemed bored and distracted by the introduction of the session. When asked about what they liked the prior week, participants responded with “battleship” and “it was fun.”
The game levels were split into two days just as for the abstract group, but this group additionally heard a story to go along with the games. The girls liked that level 1 was similar to Battleship and Bingo, both games most were familiar with. No dislikes were recorded.
During the level 1 game, two girls asked a few questions about runs and the bonus turn. After explanations, they understood runs very well. One girl was not seriously involved in the game; because of that, her table was not doing well. Most of the girls played well, but a few of them sometimes they got bored when they continually guessed a white spot. Four girls enjoy the runs. None of the table finished their game. If they had extra 10 to 15 minutes, they might have. The students liked the snacks at the end, which perked up the spirits of even the less interested girls.
Players again finished level 2 quickly, and about half of the groups received 9/9 points.
Before the level 3, players were confused by the setup of the paper where they had to write their encodings. They too thought it was too cluttered and has unnecessary text on it. We explained that the extra lines after the dashes were for them to put their guess about the image on, and that not all the dashes would be filled in for each row.
During both level 2 and level 3 of the game, we noticed that many of the girls were not really functioning in pairs. One girl was looking at the board and writing the numbers, but the other girl was just watching. Some players showed an interest in computer science and wanted more information about game and learning materials for themselves and their friends. Some participants seemed bored and distracted by the game encoding introduction, but they were all interested in the story pictures introduction. Most of the girls took the post assessment willingly and seriously, in stark contrast to the pre- assessment.