Teaching systems thinking through game design


In this mixed-methods study, we examined if students benefitted from a game design course offered during an enrichment hour in terms of gains in their system analysis and design skills. Students at a rural middle school in Southeast US (n = 19) attended a 1-hour game design course offered weekly during an academic enrichment class period, for the duration of a school year, learning basics of digital game-design and practicing system design skills such as making flowcharts. The results of quasi-experimental data indicated that the treatment group’s pretest–posttest system analysis and design skills, compared to the control group, which did not receive any training, further improved, F(1,33) = 16.516, p < 0.001. Results from the interviews showed that the participants were able to verbalize how they applied system analysis and design skills developed during the course to problem-solving in different contexts. We discussed the instructional aspects of learning game-design that align with systems thinking. We also explored the possible influence of initial cognitive skills on student learning outcomes from such interventions.

Educational Technology Research and Development
Mete Akcaoglu, Ph.D.
Mete Akcaoglu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Instructional Technology

My research interests include online learning and teaching, computer science education, problem solving, and motivation in education.