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Erin Shaw & Jihie Kim Rajeev Talwani, Mitsuyo Clark Mihir Sheth, Zach Boehm, Hao Xu Rejah Anoobacker, Isai Murugeson,Chao Wang, Rohit, a nd Jeannie Novak University of Southern California, Information Sciences Institute LEMA High School, LAUSD. PEDAGOGICAL GAMES.

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pedagogical games
Erin Shaw & Jihie Kim

Rajeev Talwani, Mitsuyo Clark

Mihir Sheth, Zach Boehm, Hao Xu Rejah Anoobacker, Isai Murugeson,Chao Wang, Rohit,

and Jeannie Novak

University of Southern California, Information Sciences Institute

LEMA High School, LAUSD


Teaching Secondary Mathematics Through Collaborative Computer-Game Making

Pedagogical Technologies Project

pedagogical games1
Pedagogical Games

Project thesis

Instruction grounded in a culturally- and career-relevant context can improve retention and STEM achievement.

Project goal

Develop and evaluate a computer game-making curriculum to address retention, career education and secondary mathematics learning.

Project funding

2008-2009: USC Seed funding for feasibility and pilot 2010-2013: NSF Creative IT ($650K, 9/2010-8/2013)


Project partners

LEMA High (Pilot*) School,

Los Angeles Unified SD

Project teachers

Math teacher (math tutorial)

Film teacher (video games)

Teacher participation

Teach classes, Review materials, Create new materials, Planning by email (before almost every class), and after classes.

*Pilot schools are in‐district LAUSD schools that have autonomy over their budget, curriculum and assessment, governance, schedule and staffing in exchange for increased accountability. (LAUSD)


project timeline
Project Timeline

Pilot I (February-March, 2011)

Five weeks, focus on game creation & mathematics integration

Evaluate context-based pre-algebra learning

Pilot II (March-April 2011)

Five-weeks, focus on team projects & online collaboration

Evaluate online activities by modeling task and topics that students write about on Moodle

Full implementation (Fall 2011, 2012)

Fall semester (four months), Implementation at second site

observations student sample
Observations (Student sample)

USC students Isai and Rejah

Students and investigators post observations

  • Running the tutorials individually actually

worked by this class, as some students

went ahead of the class and finished the

advanced tutorials with timers, enemies and bonus points with multiple levels.

2. The students who made the good games

wanted to present it in front of the class and this was interesting to watch as some of the other students got interested in it.

3. Asking the students to work together on the worksheet and the paper did not seem to work.

4. The students were not interested in doing the ID1 gameMaker scene to answer the worksheet questions. It seemed more efficient to show the scene on the projector and explain the worksheet question. Also, deriving the answer from the scene , than verifying the answer from the scene might be more engaging.

observations another student sample
Observations (Another student sample)

….when the students arrived at Mr. T's classroom, we had an unexpected experience of the system there. Every student was doing everything, except listening to the teacher. Some were fighting, some were texting, some had their own chit-chats, which they somehow knew was more important to what Mr. T had to offer them.



Game interest and technological background

Math motivation profile

Pre-post math testing

Pre-post testing on rate, fractions, percents (given twice)

Two control groups (advanced classes)

Post tests

Give to game students last Friday

No control tests given yet

survey results sample
Survey Results (Sample)

Anxious about math (19):

No=11, Yes=4

Will do well (math) (19):

No=7, Yes=4

Will do well (games) (19):

No=3, Yes=8

Plans for college (17):

No=4, Yes=12

Like math (19):

No=9, Yes=6

Good at math (19):

No=6, Yes=6

assessment results math period 2 4 are control period 6 is experimental
Assessment Results (Math)(Period 2, 4 are control, Period 6 is experimental)




2nd 4th 6th = 6th6th

ctrl ctrl exp exp

pre prepre post

N 15 18 18 18 18

1 8 6 7 7 14taught (in intervention)

2 3 10 5 5 3taught

3 0 2 0 0 0taught

4 4 3 3 3 3reviewed

5 2 2 6 6 7not taught

6 0 0 0 0 1taught

7 0 0 0 0 0taught

8 0 0 0 0 0taught

Q# #Students answering correctly*** Comment




only easy questions; Most questions were left blank.

assessment results math
Assessment Results (Math)

Little (if any) improvement shown

Time on math task was issue for pilot

  • Mostly because of student resistance
  • Also, due to ramp up time needed for game-making

Motivation to take test a problem

  • No credit/grade given
  • Some incentives to attempt problems for both pre/post, but students gamed by guessing
teaching arsenal
Teaching Arsenal
  • GameMaker
  • Video Tutorials
  • Math Worksheets
  • Adjunct games for math worksheets
  • Embedded math games
  • Create-your-own

“Math Blaster” games*

Jihie sorting laptops

project management
Project Management

Moodle used for

  • Extended team collaboration
  • Classes and student groups
video tutorials
Video Tutorials

Translation of GM Tutorial

  • Former study showed target population lost interest in long text narratives
  • Narrated by undergrad games students
  • Conversation-based
math worksheets
Math Worksheets

Reference video tutorials

  • Taught by math teacher, then given to students
  • Perceived relevance of concepts varied

E.g. speed, fraction,

graphing, median

  • Associated games created, but students ignored math if laptops were open
math worksheets1
Math Worksheets

Worksheet example

games quiz
Games Quiz

Very successful

  • Played in front of class
  • Students who answered correctly got to drive
  • Presented as debugging session (it was)
  • Students suggested better hints
  • Model for future educational game-making


  • Game making: students love their games!
  • Video tutorials
  • Teacher led game with math focus
  • Presentations followed by worksheets
  • “Catch-up” sessions

Did not work

  • Math testing
  • Combining individual computer games or instruction w/ worksheets or slides

=> teach sequentially

=> assess math as part of game creation =>ECD)

Rates appear in various contexts: Player movement, Animation speed

Variables are used to store values for display

Events have order, conditions, multiple steps

Scripts can be introduced for “special” purposes

problem cataloging
Problem Cataloging
  • What are students learning?
  • Catalogue problems that result from game design wrt CA MCS, Skills, and MDTP (test)
  • Collect database of problems
five year plan
Five Year Plan
  • Push program down to feeder middle school
  • Leverage for introductory computer programming curriculum (2B proposed)
to be continued
To Be Continued….

Thank you for listening!

Are there any questions?

For more information:

[email protected], [email protected],