At 21st century Computational Thinking (CT) is considered a fundamental skill that anyone should possess and develop from a young age. Serious games and more specifically educational games (EGs) are a promising means of introducing algorithmic thinking and programming concepts and engaging students through the process of learning. In this article, a new EG called BlocklyScript is presented. BlocklyScript aims to help students develop their CT by learning basic programming concepts, designing algorithms and correcting mistakes. During the designing phase different EGs were taken under consideration and an EG design framework was followed in order to provide a better user experience. The game was evaluated by 10 experienced computer science educators of primary and secondary schools. The positive results of this pilot evaluation show that BlocklyScript is expected to help students understand the basic concepts of CT. However, the game should be evaluated by more teachers and students in order to provide future researchers with safe results.
Problem solving skills are considered an important component in learning to program in an introductory programming (IP) course for novices. This study introduced a PROSOLVE game to enhance problem solving skills of novice programmers in the introductory programming course. The game is based on pseudo-code technique. A survey was employed to collect students' feedback and semi-structured interviews were organized to collect instructors' opinion about the game. The results show that the game helped most of the students in understanding the programming concepts, structures and problem solving strategies. Moreover, the game supports students' cognitive engagement, gains, and affective engagement in the IP course. Instructors appreciated the game and considered it as an additional supporting teaching tool in the IP course. Moreover, they considered the game as good alternative of traditional pen and paper learning approach in attracting students' interest in the programming domain.
The teaching of sorting algorithms is an essential topic in undergraduate computing courses. Typically the courses are taught through traditional lectures and exercises involving the implementation of the algorithms. As an alternative, this article presents the design and evaluation of three educational games for teaching Quicksort and Heapsort. The games have been evaluated in a series of case studies, including 23 applications of the games in data structures courses at the Federal University of Santa Catarina with the participation of a total of 371 students. The results provide a first indication that such educational games can contribute positively to the learning outcome on teaching sorting algorithms, supporting the students to achieve learning on higher levels as well as to increase the students' motivation on this topic. The social interaction the games promote allows the students to cooperate or compete while playing, making learning more fun.