Supporting Open-Ended Programming Assignments

Supporting Open-Ended Programming Assignments

Caitlin Kelleher (Washington University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-322-7.ch019
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Self-directed, open-ended projects can enable students to pursue their own interests and lead to deep learning. However, it can be difficult to incorporate these kinds of projects into a traditional curriculum in which all students must master a set of basic skills. In this chapter, the authors describe the design and implementation of Storytelling Alice, a programming environment that presents computer programming as a means to the end of creating animated stories. By studying the kinds of animated movies that students envision creating, the chapter’s authors were able to design the system such that typical student projects naturally motivate the set of basic concepts we want students to learn. The authors present a potential model for incorporating Storytelling Alice into a classroom setting using open-ended projects. The chapter concludes with a discussion of some directions for future work that may help to enable the use more open-ended projects in formal education.
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Motivation For Storytelling Alice

The original goal in designing Storytelling Alice was not to take steps towards enabling open-ended assignments in school, but to find ways to motivate middle school girls to engage with computer programming. Learning to program is a valuable part of a general education for all students. The world around us is filled with complex systems whose behavior depends on the behaviors and interactions of smaller parts within the system: cars, weather, and manufacturing plants, to name just a few. Yet our schools do little to prepare students to reason about complex systems. When your car breaks down, it is helpful to be able to read about the main components of car engines and eliminate possible problems based on your understanding of the behavior of your car. Programming provides children with some hands-on experience dealing with complex systems that they create themselves. When their programs do not behave as expected, children have to learn to isolate the problems and solve them. They learn to narrow the scope of a problem and that a single malfunctioning program component can cause other program components to malfunction. In addition to being a fundamental computer programming skill, the ability to experimentally isolate the cause of a problem is a valuable critical thinking skill.

In addition to the critical thinking skills students develop through programming, an understanding of computer programming may prove to be a valuable job skill for many students. Few of today’s students will be able to avoid working with computers in some capacity in their future careers. Some research estimates that up to 30% of our computer-using workforce will be required to do some programming activities as part of their job (Scaffidi, Shaw, & Myers, 2005). Even students who choose not to pursue computer-related careers may find themselves working with computer scientists, programmers, and engineers. A basic understanding of computer programming will likely be helpful in preparing students to communicate and work productively with computer professionals. Further, the need for computer scientists is expected to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that the rate of growth in the Information Technology workforce will be more than twice the growth rate for the overall workforce in the period between 2006 and 2016 (Vegso, 2008).

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Rhonda Christensen, Gerald Knezek
Chapter 1
A Simulation Primer  (pages 1-24)
Katrin Becker, James R. Parker
This chapter provides an introduction to digital simulations for those interested in using or designing them for instructional purposes. There has... Sample PDF
A Simulation Primer
Chapter 2
Youngkyun Baek
This chapter expands upon the definition of a simulation with two categories: experiential and symbolic. It discusses the interactive, experiential... Sample PDF
Digital Simulation in Teaching and Learning
Chapter 3
Peter R. Albion
Interaction is fundamental to the learning process and game-like 3D online spaces present opportunities for enhancing learning through supporting a... Sample PDF
Virtual Spaces for Teaching and Learning
Chapter 4
David Williamson Shaffer
Multiculturalism is an essential tool for democratic citizenship in a world made ever more closely interconnected by information technologies. In... Sample PDF
Computers and the End of Progressive Education
Chapter 5
Celina Byers
The desired outcome of instructional game design is to combine the powerful attraction of games and the proven effectiveness of instructional system... Sample PDF
Combining Instructional Design and Game Design
Chapter 6
Helyn Gould, Michael Hughes, Paul Maharg, Emma Nicol
Game-based learning and simulation is a powerful mode of learning, used by industries as diverse as aviation and health sciences. While there are... Sample PDF
The Narrative Event Diagram: A Tool for Designing Professional Simulations
Chapter 7
David Gibson
In order for a digital simulation to provide an artificial teaching environment there needs to be a computational model of the act of teaching... Sample PDF
Modeling Classroom Behaviors in Software Agents
Chapter 8
Sara Dexter
The new technology-enhanced conception of assessment stands in contrast to the traditional view of assessments as tests of a learner’s ability to... Sample PDF
Design Principles for Interactive Learning Environments with Embedded Formative Assessments
Chapter 9
Penny deByl
Three-dimensional virtual learning environments provide students with pedagogic experiences beyond traditional two-dimensional textbook and Web page... Sample PDF
Hybrid 2D/3D Development of Interactive Simulations
Chapter 10
Len Annetta, James Minogue, Shawn Holmes, Meng-Tzu Cheng, Elizabeth Folta, Marta Klesath
This chapter will provide concrete examples of how a research group at North Carolina State University is using case studies as the... Sample PDF
Using Case Studies as the Narrative to Game Design and Development
Chapter 11
Mark Girod
Teacher education is currently facing pressures to demonstrate efficacy in preparing teachers who can affect P-12 student learning gains. Teacher... Sample PDF
Exploring Teacher Problem Solving Using Simulation
Chapter 12
Donguk Cheong, Bokyeong Kim
A computer simulation for improving teaching is expected to remove the potential negative effects on real students while creating an environment... Sample PDF
A Simulation for Improving Teachers' Motivational Skills
Chapter 13
Damián Piccolo, Anna Oskorus
Nearly half of all new teachers leave the field of education within the first five years (Ingersoll, 2003; Alliance for Excellent Education, 2005).... Sample PDF
Designing Commercial Simulations for Teachers
Chapter 14
Scott J. Warren, Richard A. Stein
This chapter discusses the design and use of simulated teaching experiences contextualized through role-play in a multi-user virtual environment as... Sample PDF
Simulating Teaching Experience with Role-Play
Chapter 15
Bokyeong Kim, Donguk Cheong
This chapter presents the theory, structure, and development process used in designing a teaching simulation. simClass was designed to help teachers... Sample PDF
simClass: Simulate Your Class Before You Teach
Chapter 16
Karen Schrier, Charles K. Kinzer
Teacher education that emphasizes the understanding and assessment of ethics can support the creation of an ethically aware and critically engaged... Sample PDF
Using Digital Games to Develop Ethical Teachers
Chapter 17
Shelby P. Morge
Recently adopted 21st Century goals stress the importance of preparing students for a globally competitive society by providing them with... Sample PDF
Modeling in the Classroom Using Squeak Etoys
Chapter 18
Mary Jo Dondlinger, Scott Joseph Warren
This chapter discusses Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as simulated experiences, and presents the conceptual framework that informed the design and... Sample PDF
Alternate Reality Games as Simulations
Chapter 19
Caitlin Kelleher
Self-directed, open-ended projects can enable students to pursue their own interests and lead to deep learning. However, it can be difficult to... Sample PDF
Supporting Open-Ended Programming Assignments
Chapter 20
Kay Kyeongju Seo, Aimee Byk, Chris Collins
How can one bring cognitive apprenticeship into the virtual world? This chapter addresses how to construct a 3D online digital environment that... Sample PDF
Cognitive Apprenticeship Inspired Simulations
Chapter 21
Jae Yeob Jung, Hyung Sung Park
The purpose of this chapter is to explore how learning, by making games, can provide opportunities for higher-order thinking such as problem... Sample PDF
Learning by Doing via Game Making
Chapter 22
Christian Sebastian Loh, Jae Hwan Byun
Game Modification, or Modding, is a unique and valuable way of learning with digital games as well as a means to earn beginners’ stripes in the game... Sample PDF
Modding Neverwinter Nights Into Serious Games
Chapter 23
Teresa Franklin, David Chelberg, Chang Liu
Virtual environments are a topic of discussion for many in the business and commerce fields. However, K-12 school systems have been slow to embrace... Sample PDF
Changing Middle School Science through STEAM
Chapter 24
David Gibson
This chapter discusses how a teaching simulation can embody core characteristics of a complex system. It employs examples of specific frameworks and... Sample PDF
Complex Systems Concepts in Simulations
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