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The Role of Complex Software in Cognitive Skill Development

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  1. The Role of Complex Software in Cognitive Skill Development Nhlanganiso Biyela, Thato Foko and Alan Amory Centre for IT in Higher Education, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa

  2. Play • Influences psychological, sociological, and intellectual developments (Vygotsky, 1933/1978; Rieber, 1996) • Is an universally accepted mode of learning (Blanchard & Cheska, 1985) • Intrinsically stimulate curiosity through (Thomas and Macredie, 1994) • Challenges and fantasy (Malone 1980, 1981a,b) • Novelty and complexity (Carroll, 1982; Malone, 1984; Malone & Lepper, 1987; Rivers, 1990)

  3. Play • Influences learning through visualization, experimentation, and creativity (Betz, 1995) • Supports development of critical thinking though: • Discovery and problem-solving (Rieber, 1995) • Object manipulation (Leutner, 1993) • Goal formation and competition (Neal, 1990)

  4. Game Object Model Play Exploration Engagement Challenges Game Space The Game Space object includes four motivational abstract interfaces: play, exploration, challenges, and engagement (Roberts, 1976; Malone 1980, 1981a,b; Blanchard & Cheska, 1985; Thomas & Macredie, 1994; Rieber, 1996).

  5. Game Object Model Play Exploration Engagement Critical thinking Discovery Goal formation Goal completion Competition Practice Story-line Challenges Game Space Visualization Space The Visualisation Space includes those interfaces related to cognitive activities such as critical thinking, discovery, goal formation, goal completion, competition, and practice (Rieber, 1995; Neal, 1990; Amory et al., 1999), and includes the concrete Story Line interface.

  6. Game Object Model Drama Technology Play Exploration Engagement Interaction Discovery Goal formation Critical thinking Gestures Practice Story-line Graphics Fun Sounds Competition Goal completion Challenges Game Space Visualization Space Elements Space Actors Space The Elements Space object includes the abstract interfaces of fun, and drama (Malone, 1981a,b) and concrete interfaces of graphics, sound, and technology (Amory et al., 1999) and actor interaction, and gesture (Stanislavski, 1981; Harrigan, 1999). The drama, interaction, and gesture interfaces are part of the Actor Space object.

  7. Game Object Model Fun Play Exploration Engagement Critical thinking Discovery Goal formation Goal completion Competition Story-line Graphics Short-term Computational Practice Reflex Sounds Technology Logical Visual Long-term Manipulation Mathematical Writing Reading Speaking Gestures Interaction Drama Challenges Game Space Visualization Space Elements Space Actors Space Problem Space Communication Literacy Memory Motor The Problem Space object includes manipulation, memory, logic, mathematics, and reflexes concrete interfaces (Betz, 1995; Amory et al., 1999) that support critical thinking, discovery, goal formation and completion, competition, and practice interfaces (Leutner, 1993; Quinn, 1994; Saljo, 1979; Schank & Cleary, 1995) of the Visualisation Space object.

  8. Educational Software Design • Software engineering methodologies: • None – no product may emerge • Rigid – wrong product developed • Newman and Lamming (1995) feedback system • “Situation of Concern” document describes the current unsatisfactory state of the world that the software will attempt to solve [Why]. • Problem statement document • Users who will exploit the system [the Who], • Human activity that the system will support to satisfy the situation of concern [the What], • Support provided by the system [the How], • Technology used to develop the system [the With]. • The Who and What used to defined a persona (characteristics of a fictitious user of the system).

  9. Educational Software Design • But persona data • not built from real information (either quantitative or qualitative) • cannot be subjected to vigorous evaluations

  10. Personal Outlining Model Gestures Interaction Drama Sounds Technology Speaking Fun Graphics Writing Story-line Critical thinking Long-term Reading Engagement Goal formation Reflex Manipulation Goal completion Short-term Practice Competition Computational Mathematical Logical Visual Play Exploration Discovery Challenges Logical Mathematical Reading Writing Visual POM Persona Literacy 2D Visualization Occupation Sex Age Education 3D Visualization Game Space Communication 2D to 3D conversion Communication Literacy Properties Problem Space Visualization Space Memory Motor GOM Game Space Visualization Space Elements Space Actors Space

  11. Method • Instrument • Literacy (visual and logical+mathematical) skills • Communication (reading and writing) skills • Groups • Senior school children • No exposure to digital video games (n=55) • Played γKhozi for more than 20h (n=51) • Humanities undergraduates (n=30) • Science undergraduates (n=30) • Geography undergraduates • No exposure to GIS (n=20) • Used GIS for 1 semester (n=20)

  12. Results - Reading 1. School 2. School + game 3. Humanities 4. Science 5. Geography 6. Geography + GIS

  13. Results - Writing 1. School 2. School + game 3. Humanities 4. Science 5. Geography 6. Geography + GIS

  14. Results - 2D Visualization 1. School 2. School + game 3. Humanities 4. Science 5. Geography 6. Geography + GIS

  15. Results - 3D Visualization 1. School 2. School + game 3. Humanities 4. Science 5. Geography 6. Geography + GIS

  16. Results - 2D-3D Visualization 1. School 2. School + game 3. Humanities 4. Science 5. Geography 6. Geography + GIS

  17. Results – Logical & Mathematical 1. School 2. School + game 3. Humanities 4. Science 5. Geography 6. Geography + GIS

  18. Conclusions • School children playing γKhozi outperformed those that had no exposure to this educational game • Science undergraduates performed better than those from the humanities • Humanities students exposed to GIS performed best • University undergraduate participants performed better than the groups of senior school children • Participants working in teams were able to solve complex problems with greater ease that those who worked alone • Active viewers/participants’ and make their own meaning