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Female under-representation in Computer Science education and workplace – A survey of issues and interventions, moving towards a game-based learning solution. (424)

Public Session active 4 months ago

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Thursday, September 12, 2013, 9:00am – 10:00am
Located in Conference Suite 1
In theme Making innovation work

Joseph Osemwegie Osunde1, Liz Bacon1, Gillian Windall1, Lachlan MacKinnon2 1The University of Greenwich, London., GB, 2The University of Greenwich, London, GB The proportion of females studying and working in computing progressively decreases from early secondary education (age 11-14) to the workforce...... Read More

Joseph Osemwegie Osunde1, Liz Bacon1, Gillian Windall1, Lachlan MacKinnon2
1The University of Greenwich, London., GB, 2The University of Greenwich, London, GB

The proportion of females studying and working in computing progressively decreases from early secondary education (age 11-14) to the workforce stage. Many possible contributing factors have been identified and analysed in related research work. This paper presents the findings of a study into issues and interventions in this area and proposes a path for future work in game-based learning with a focus on the use of Computer Science (CS) learning games.

Over the years, a number of intervention strategies have tried to address the problem at various stages but the downward trend continues. This paper focuses on a specific case involving the role of educational software (ES), which historically may have been part of the problem.

Game-based learning has been used in CS in an attempt to improve learner motivation; however educational games are less popular with females than games designed for entertainment. A number of methodologies currently used in the elicitation of user requirements in designing educational software models comprise tools and techniques that are predetermined by researchers/developers such as the heuristic assessment and cognitive walkthroughs which may not be relevant to the audience. Other  methodologies such as the think aloud protocol elicit requirements from users, but have the disadvantage of producing large amounts of natural language that are difficult to interpret.

We have designed an approach based on Personal Construct Theory ( PCT) which is the Open Single Repertory Sorting (Open Card Sorting) to elicit what young game players perceive as the distinguishing characteristics of a series of computer games. This methodology is user driven and its primary objective is to elicit the game requirements of girls (11-14) from respondents’ constructs, categorisation and criteria. Both qualitative and quantitative data collected will be analysed to identify the elements in computer games that appeal to females of age range 11-14. This presentation will discuss the structure of this approach and the potential outcomes.

The results of the survey, together with the literature-based study of games elements which appeal to the wider-games playing population including males in the age range 11-14, will be used to identify the commonalities of game features that appeal to both genders and those “non-cross over elements” which are unique to the target demographic group. A combination of these results will be used to create a framework for designing Computer Science educational games that should appeal to the target group (i.e. females 11-14). We will carry out an empirical investigation of the effectiveness of this design model, capturing both qualitative and quantitative data to provide a strong basis for future development.

While this is one particular solution for a specific age group addressing one factor, it is hoped that it will also have more general relevance.

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