Gilliland Spring Results: Algorithms

As described in an earlier post, the context version of our three games was tested with three groups in Arizona. In this post, we report on the results for our first game about algorithms as experienced at Gilliland Middle School.

Gilliland Middle School

One of the facilitators started out asking what an algorithm was. They knew that an algorithm was a set of instructions, but not that it related to computers. Because the pre-assessment was framed as a mini-game, they didn’t mind filling it out.

While playing, Team 1 wrote instructions for arranging items, but they were very general and they had to revise. Team 2 got close, but didn’t quite make it look like the picture. In the interest of time, we moved on.

Team 2 marked the blank map; they seemed a little confused about the fact the blank map was for the other team. I gave them an extra blank map. They gave very precise coordinate instructions, but did not clearly specify where to start and the other team didn’t mark coordinates on the map, so it wasn’t quite right. They revised their instructions, and it was closer. In the interest of time, they had to stop.

Interestingly, while team 2 used the coordinate system to give directions to team 1, team 1 used the up-down system used in crosswords to give directions. Each team was in its own frame of mind while following the other team’s directions and got the map wrong.

At this stage, the facilitators only had two minutes left, so they gave out the engagement survey (again, no complaints).

During even the markedly un-game-like components of the session (completing forms, etc.), the girls seemed to exhibit a playful attitude.

During the second session, time was spent outdoors, which was distracting, though the girls seemed to enjoy it. Team 1 wrote directions for decorating the crate. One girl in particular took the lead. I’m not sure if the newest participant understood what we were doing since she didn’t see it last week. However, she did mention that you could just count the holes in the crate; for example, the flower clip was on the third hole on the top row. Her teammates didn’t use this strategy, though, instead using directional words like “center,” “left,” and “right.”

Team 2 then tried to decorate the crate according to team 1’s instructions. The placements were fairly close except that team 1 didn’t specify that they needed to keep the crate in front of them and always look at it from the same angle to follow her instructions.

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