Research Statement

Current Research Proposal


The proposed research will explore methods for teaching elementary computer science (CS) concepts through approaches in game art and design. Recent changes in game design software include the ability to model systems. Consider Blueprint in the Unreal Engine or the node-flow model plugins for Unity. These game model types create a potential convergence with software engineering modeling, leading to the notion that through game design, one may learn some aspects of CS. But, which CS concepts and how to teach these concepts while covering game design? Can CS principles and game design principles be co-taught within the same class? How can this education be formally assessed? Answering these questions involves the core of our research. An example CS principle is iteration. Iteration can be constructed using control structures in a text-based programming languages. It can also be specified in a timeline based models such as Unreal Engine’s matinee or Unity3D’s animation view. The use of matinee or animation view will allow the student to have the proper context that may be relevant to their creative interests. This research will focus on two approaches to enhance learning of computer science principles by leveraging video-game design and development. Method 1 will list the computer science concepts to create through the game engine toolset. Method 2 involves the in-game learning of the principles through the development experience. We will use formal assessments to evaluate learning outcomes and compare each approach. To assess research outcomes, we will create in-game scenarios to assess the player’s engagement as it pertains to learning, retaining, and testing their knowledge through development building tools.

Future Research

Once my initial research efforts have been defended I intend on extending my research to allow a variety of subject matter into the framework. Create VR and AR alternatives to expand the learning audience. And continue to evolve the learning experience in 3D environments through rich gameplay experiences.