Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Ismahan Arslan-Ari

Abstract

The purpose of this action research was to implement a digital game development project and describe its effects on the performance and attitudes of eighth-grade students in a required computer science course at South Carolina School District Alpha. The following research questions were explored: (1) How does the game development project impact participants’ ability to analyze and develop algorithms? (2) What is the effect of the game development project on participants’ attitudes toward computer science? and (3) What is the relationship between participants’ attitudes toward computer science and their performance?

There were 28 participants composed of students in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics magnet program. A convergent parallel mixed-methods approach was used to answer the research questions. A content knowledge assessment pretest and posttest were administered to measure performance before and after the intervention. Content knowledge assessment scores after the intervention were significantly larger than the content knowledge assessment scores before the intervention. A survey measuring attitudes toward computer science was administered to participants before and after the intervention. The survey consisted of five subscales: (a) self-concept, (b) learning at school, (c) learning outside of school, (d) future participation, and (e) importance. For all five subscales, the subscale measure after the intervention was significantly larger than the subscale measure before the intervention. The linear correlation between participants’ attitudes toward computer science and their performance was measured at the end of the intervention. Findings suggested that as participants’ scores on the post-survey for attitudes toward computer science increased, so did participants’ scores on the post-content knowledge assessment.

Qualitative data was collected in the form of field notes from classroom observations and participant interviews. Inductive and deductive analysis was performed on the qualitative data to help answer the research questions. Findings showed that (a) participants’ performance and attitudes improved after the intervention, (b) participants experienced barriers to success, and (c) attitudes and performance were related and appeared to influence each other. Implications and limitations of the research were discussed.

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