Fundamental Computer Science Conceptual Understandings for High School Students Using Original Computer Game Design

  • Jeremy Vaughn Ernst
Keywords: computer science, virtual public schools


Beginning in 2009, the North Carolina Virtual Public Schools worked with researchers at the William and Ida Friday Institute to produce and evaluate the use of game creation by secondary students as a form of learning content related to career awareness in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, with particular emphasis in computer science areas. The study required the development of different forms of multimedia, inclusive with content and activities that could be conducted over the Internet. The team worked with a game art and design graduate class to produce materials and assessment instruments to be included in the project. The multimedia-based materials were piloted and field-tested in the Career Technical Education (CTE) online curricular offering of Computer Applications I. The evaluation and assessment of this project focused on student learning gains in content specific computer science areas, and overall appreciation of the technologies and structure used during the project. Teacher and student interviews, along with teacher journals help track the progress of both the students and edited materials. Conclusions from this study include support of gaming as a pedagogical process and the need for technological literacy. From feedback, the study concluded that informational technology software is a large variable in the success of this type of instructional unit.