This past spring, the Arizona team implemented the Story Context version of our games at three sites in Arizona. In the following series of posts, we will report on the results of these game play sessions.
Our initial plan was to use two different versions of the games, similar to the Fall game implementation in New Jersey. However, since our participant numbers were not large enough for comparison groups, we decided to use the story context version of the game at all sites. This was the one version that was not used in the Fall, and allowed us to make sure that the facilitators’ guides were fully developed for this version. We also can identify any potential differences in how girls react to this version of the game and what they learn, in comparison to the results of the Fall game implementation.
We partnered with two schools in Tempe, Arizona, and the Tempe Public Library for our Spring implementation. We recruited five girls to participate in seven 1 hour afterschool sessions at Gilliland Middle School, from mid-January through early March. We recruited 16 girls to participate in six 90 minute sessions at Ward Traditional Academy from mid-January through February. At Ward, we included some girls who were in 5th grade as well as 6th through 8th. Many of these girls had some exposure to coding and the concepts in the games from prior classroom activities, and we were interested to see if those school experiences improved their performance on the games.
Finally, we held six sessions with 2-4 girls at the Tempe Public Library. This gave us the opportunity to test the games in a different setting for informal STEM learning with somewhat less structure. These sessions were held on Friday afternoons for about 90 minutes each.
Overall, we found that the games are (for the most part) quite engaging and address concepts that girls tend not to be familiar with. We’ve also begun to identify a number of misconceptions that girls have about computer science and “coding” in particular. We’ll be discussing some of these insights as we describe the game sessions in subsequent posts!