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2010-2011 Honors Student
Name: Jason Ginther
Honors in: Computer Science
Hometown: East Norriton, PA
Major(s): Computer Science, Mathematics
Title of project: An Implementation of Video Games as Computer Science Teaching Tools
Abstract or brief description: Video games have the potential to convey information in an environment where students are extrinsically motivated to learn. Studies of games both as pedagogical tools and as entertainment have shown that they invoke problem-solving skills and activate eustress in players. Current educational games are beginning to take advantage of the positive benefits of gaming, though they are still experimental. This project endeavors to create a new pedagogical video game to teach computer science concepts. The design of the game mechanic is informed by contemporary learning theory and good game design principles to be an effective teaching tool.
How did you get interested in your topic? Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I became interested in Computer Science because of my early interest in video games. When I was given the opportunity to do an honors project, it gave me the chance to blend my studies with video games, which was a chance I couldn’t pass up.
Do you intend to research your topic further? If so, how? My research product ended up being an original video game that I designed. I will study the effectiveness of the video game and will eventually finish the game and distribute it.
How did you benefit academically by conducting research/participating in honors? There were two aspects to my project: the education research and the software design. Each of these aspects was a very large task to undertake. For the education, it was one of my first experiences learning about the educational value of video games as well as the learning process in general. For the design side, it is the largest piece of software I’ve designed up to now, so it taught me the importance of good software design paradigms.
How has the department (or faculty advisor) prepared you for the future? Again, the design experience gave me practice programming large projects and employing good design.
What advice do you have for other students interested in honors? Take advantage of the fact that you get to choose your field of study. Study something you know you will enjoy and it will encourage you to work hard and put in a good effort.