Selection criteria for serious games to assist students in learning programming concepts
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There is a general consensus among tertiary institutions that the number of students enrolled in the computer science field seems to be on the decline. Programming is considered as the cause of this trend as most students consider programming difficult to master. To enhance students’ learning, researchers have explored the possibility of using technology, such as Personal Computers (PCs) and smartphones. Researchers have noted that most students seem tech savvy and enjoy playing video games in their spare time; hence, serious games have also been considered. Therefore, the aim of this study was to identify and use selection criteria for serious games that could assist students in learning programming concepts. A set of primary and secondary objectives was set. The primary objective was to identify and use selection criteria for serious games to assist students in learning programming concepts. To achieve this objective however, a set of secondary objectives were derived by means of theoretical and empirical objectives. These theoretical objectives were to search the literature for available criteria to select serious games for learning concepts, to identify attributes that define a good serious game, to identify serious games for learning programming concepts and to identify important factors in learning fundamental programming concepts. The empirical objectives of the study were to evaluate the suitability of the identified serious games in learning fundamental programming concepts against the game attributes identified during the literature study and to identify and use selection criteria to identify good serious games that could assist students in learning computer programming concepts. To accomplish this, an Action Research (AR) approach was adopted by collaborating with educators to determine how to use game attributes to select a serious game. The selection criteria model was then evaluated and analysed by interviewing educators for necessary feedback. Then, to validate the model as proof of concept, the participants used the presented selection criteria model to evaluate a series of serious games as they relate to the learning of programming concepts.