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Improving Learning of Digital Systems Concepts Using a Video Game

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Circuits & Systems Education II

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count

15

DOI

10.18260/p.25622

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25622

Download Count

249

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Paper Authors

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Karen L. Butler-Purry Texas A&M University

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Karen Butler-Purry is the Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Professional Studies as well as a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. Her research interests include computer and intelligent systems applications to power distribution systems and engineering education. She can be reached by e-mail at klbutler@tamu.edu.

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Mehmet Oren Texas A&M University

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Mehmet Oren is a PhD student at the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M. He is currently working as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M. His research interests are game-based assessment, simulation-based assessments, performance assessments, instructional design.

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Susan Pedersen Texas A&M University

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Susan Pedersen is an associate professor of Educational Technology at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on the design of games and virtual environments to support learning complex skills.

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Justin Foreman Prairie View A&M University

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Dr. Foreman is an instructor at Prairie View A&M University in Electrical Engineering and at Lone Star College in Applied Technology. His areas of interest include FPGA's, fiber optics, and microwave engineering for sensing applications.

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Pamela Obiomon Prairie View A&M University

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Pamela Obiomon received a BS degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas, Arlington TX, in 1991, a MS in engineering degree from Prairie View A&M University in 1993, and a PhD degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University in 2003. From 1998 to 1999, Dr. Obiomon served as an adjunct faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in the Department of Micro-electronics in Rochester, New York. From 2000-2002, she was the lead data processing system hardware engineer in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. In 2003, she joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Prairie View A&M University. She is currently serving as the Interim Department Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Prairie View. Dr. Obiomon’s research interests include the development of integrated microsystems powered by energy scavenging for biomedical and environmental devices and radiation effects on devices.

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Ajay K. Katangur Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

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Abstract

This paper discusses an ongoing educational research project which includes the development of a video game, TestX, to improve the learning of digital systems concepts in digital systems and computer architecture courses, and studies with students at three diverse institutions using the game. Two objectives of the research are to: create new student learning materials and strategies which vertically integrates a conceptual or pedagogical approach on digital system design into sequences of courses in electrical and computer engineering (ECE) and computer science (CS) curriculums, and contribute to knowledge on undergraduate student attitudes on the use of video games as a motivator for pursuing an ECE or CS major, and the effect on student performance, especially those from underrepresented groups.

Currently the game player has to go through Levels and Worlds in sequence, and Stages can be explored in any order. The game design combines the freedom to explore, which is a key feature of video games, with a sequential progression that is typical to a course of study. Digital circuit design problems are presented in the form of truth tables specifying the desired output for the given inputs, boolean expressions specifying the logic expressions representing the function of the problems, or word problems describing the problems. The game currently includes combinational digital circuitry concepts. A player can generate design solutions in a circuit environment where s/he can drag and drop various gates and custom building blocks from an inventory box onto a board that has the external inputs and outputs. The game provides two components that players can use when they encounter difficulties. Interface Help explains how to use the features of the digital circuit design component of the game. Logic Help provides context-sensitive help about the current problem while also allowing players to access fundamental material on digital logic that they may need if they have limited prior knowledge. Both components are under user control, providing just-in-time help. The effectiveness of the game is assessed using a common pre- and post-test and simple embedded assessment in the game.

Butler-Purry, K. L., & Oren, M., & Pedersen, S., & Foreman, J., & Obiomon, P., & Katangur, A. K. (2016, June), Improving Learning of Digital Systems Concepts Using a Video Game Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25622

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