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A Video Game For Enhancing Learning In Digital Systems Courses

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.138.1 - 14.138.9



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Paper Authors

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Karen Butler-Purry Texas A&M University


Vinod Srinivasan Texas A&M University

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Dr. Vinod Srinivasan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Visualization, serves as a co-PI for the project. Dr. Srinivasan has been teaching game design for the past two years. He has a background in engineering and computer graphics and extensive experience in software design and development, particularly in the area of interactive computer graphics. His research interests include applications of visualization in education, simulation, and design, with particular emphasis on computer games and their use as tools for learning and teaching. He is currently working on an NSF-supported project to develop interactive software for Civil Engineering education. He is also working on several serious game projects including an NIH-supported SBIR project to develop game-based exercises for the design of assisted living facilities.

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susan pedersen Texas A&M University

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Dr. Susan Pedersen, an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, serves as Co-PI and assists with the development of the video games and the assessment and evaluation. Her research focuses on the design of innovative educational software to support student-directed learning, and she was the lead instructional designer of Alien Rescue, winner of the 2001 Learning Software Design Competition. Specifically she will provide expertise on the application of learning theory to the design of video games for teaching/learning and assessment of student learning.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Video Game for Enhancing Learning in Digital Systems Courses


In today’s world, video games have become an essential part of children’s culture. The emergence of the “Gamer Generation” presents interesting challenges to educators. Traditional teaching methods and tools have clearly not had the same success as they had in the past. It has become apparent that our instructional methods and tools need to take into account the changing profile of students entering our schools and colleges. This paper reports on a National Science Foundation (NSF) Combined Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) project at Texas A&M University (TAMU) which entailed the development of a prototype implementation of a video game to demonstrate its potential and identify needs for revisions and future design prescription. The video game will be integrated with currently used instructional techniques in Digital Systems courses. The prototype was designed, developed, and tested on students enrolled in Digital Systems courses.

The prototype includes a 3D and a 2D environment. The 3D environment provides a game world in which the player, using a first person view, navigates through a series of obstacles. The 2D digital circuit design module provides learning exercises that teach sum-of-products logic design concepts with truth tables. A preliminary study of the 2D digital circuit design module was performed in December 2007. Both a usability study and a pilot test of the full prototype were performed in April 2008. The purpose of the studies was to get feedback from students on various features and graphics of the prototype and to evaluate the effectiveness of the prototype in teaching. The students were excited about the possibility of using a video game for learning in ECE courses.

Details about the prototype and the evaluation results from the study will be presented in this paper. The game will be further developed and evaluated over the next few years.


In the Introduction to Digital Design (DD) course, offered at Texas A&M University and in most computer and electrical engineering programs, addresses several complex concepts that some students find difficult to grasp. For example, thinking in terms of binary numbers and variables, viewing design from a systematic approach, and sequential concepts/feedback systems are new or abstract concepts that some students are slow to grasp. The course readings and support lectures are selected to address these concepts; however, many of the students do not read the assigned materials because it is not their preferred approach for knowledge intake. The laboratory component of the course tries to introduce the students to course concepts from an experimental perspective to address students whose learning styles prefer a concrete teaching style. A considerable number of students also convey boredom or lack of challenge with the laboratory assignments.

As new pedagogy is considered for this course, it is clear that the instructional methods and tools need to take into account the changing profile of students entering our schools and colleges. A

Butler-Purry, K., & Srinivasan, V., & pedersen, S. (2009, June), A Video Game For Enhancing Learning In Digital Systems Courses Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4906

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