June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
24.985.1 - 24.985.10
PLAY Minecraft! Assessing secondary engineering education using game challenges within a participatory learning environmentAbstractThis paper describes an interdisciplinary collaboration between communication and engineeringteams at to create assessments for engineering education in the context of PLAY(Participatory Learning and YOU!), a new, participatory learning environment for multimediacollaboration (Reilly et al., 2012). Minecraft (2013), an online game and building environmentpopular with young teens, was used as the engineering learning domain. Within PLAY, studentscreated and shared Minecraft ‘challenges’ during a focus group consisting of five boys, ages 9 to16. Machine learning techniques were used to create a classification scheme for engineeringstandards based on the Science and Engineering Practices in the Next Generation ScienceStandards (NGSS, 2013). Natural language processing and data mining techniques were appliedto student ‘challenges’ to assess and report on students’ engineering and domain learning.Results show that standards applied and domain topics discussed vary consistently by age.Responses to the corresponding questionnaire show clearly that the session was a highly positiveexperience for the children. The potential for use in engineering education is discussed.The goal of the project was to explore the feasibility of using PLAY as a STEM learningenvironment. Engineering was chosen as the STEM domain, and the game of Minecraft waschosen as the engineering course domain. Work to be done included creating and testing thefollowing: 1. A data pipeline for analyzing a PLAY ‘challenge’ - the canvas that includes a networked multimedia presentation and its associated social dialogue; 2. A classification system for identifying the application of engineering standards and domain topics; 3. Analytics for instructional assessment.Text Processing MethodologyEngineering practices from the NGSS science standards were organized into a number of non-overlapping categories using a supervised machine-learning program from MALLET (2013).The final engineering standards categories were: • Analyzing and interpreting data • Asking questions and defining problems • Constructing explanations and designing solutions • Developing and using models • Engaging in argument from evidence • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information • Planning and carrying out investigations • Using mathematics and computational thinkingA supervised machine learning approach was also used to create Minecraft topic categories froman online Wiki.Focus Group MethodologyAssessment of the system included a two-hour PLAY session and a corresponding questionnairein July 2013. Five boys participated: two entering grade 4, two entering grade 8 and one enteringgrade 11. Participants were given two seed challenges to start, “Building a House in Minecraft”and “Building a Sewer in Minecraft”, which were created by two of the authors (who areundergraduate engineering students) to allow students to become accustomed to the PLAYinterface before creating their own challenges. The seed challenges were purposefully created toprovide data that would correlate to engineering standards. After thirty minutes of commentingon and debating the seed challenges, students were instructed to create their own challenges,which they did for the next thirty minutes (figure 1). The final hour was spent participating inpeer challenges and also iterating on their own challenges (responding to peer comments).[Extra Page for Figures and References]ResultsFigure 1. PLAY canvases created by students.Figure 2. Assessment results showing application of engineering standards, per user.ReferencesHeick, T. (2013) 5 Lessons To Learn From Minecraft In Education, TeachThought, Feb. 2, 2013. http://www.teachthought.com/trending/5-lessons-to-learn-from-minecraft-in-education/MALLET (2013) Machine Learning for LanguagE Tookit, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, http://mallet.cs.umass.edu/.Minecraft (2013) https://minecraft.net/.NGSS (2013) Next Generation Science Standards, http://www.nextgenscience.org/next- generation-science-standards.Rielly, E., Jenkins, H., Felt, L.J., and Vartabedian, V. (2012) Shall we PLAY?, http://www.annenberglab.com/sites/default/files/uploads/Shall_We_PLAY_final_small.pdf.
Shaw, E., & La, M. T., & Phillips, R., & Reilly, E. B. (2014, June), PLAY Minecraft! Assessing Secondary Engineering Education using Game Challenges within a Participatory Learning Environment Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22918
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