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Using Interdisciplinary Game-based Learning to Develop Problem Solving and Writing Skills

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Curricular Issues in Computing and Information Technology Programs II

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1334.1 - 24.1334.19



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Paper Authors


Reneta Davina Lansiquot New York City College of Technology

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Reneta D. Lansiquot is Associate Professor of English and Assistant Director of the Honors Scholars Program where she earned her first degrees, an A.A.S. in Computer Information Systems and a B. Tech in Computer Systems, New York City College of Technology, City University of New York. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Communication and Technology at New York University after completing her M.S. in Integrated Digital Media at Polytechnic University (now The Polytechnic School of Engineering, or NYU Engineering). Her mixed-methodology research focuses on interdisciplinary studies. She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences in Austria, Canada, Greece, Japan, and Portugal and has published peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles on technical writing, game design, virtual reality, and problem-solving across the disciplines. Her book is entitled Cases on Interdisciplinary Research Trends in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Studies on Urban Classrooms.

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Ashwin Satyanarayana New York City College of Technology

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Ashwin Satyanarayana earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has been a Research Software Developer at Microsoft, where he worked on Microsoft’s search engine Bing. His research interests include data mining, machine learning, data preparation, information theory, and applied probability with applications in real-world learning problems.

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Candido Cabo New York City College of Technology/CUNY

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Candido Cabo earned the degree of Ingeniero Superior de Telecomunicacion from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in 1982, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in 1992. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Upstate Medical Center, State University of New York, and a research scientist in the Department of Pharmacology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. In 2000, he joined New York City College of Technology, City University of New York (CUNY) where he is a Professor in the Department of Computer Systems Technology. Since 2005, he has been a member of the doctoral faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center. His research interests include computer science and engineering education and the use of computational models to understand and solve problems in biology.

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Using Interdisciplinary Game-based Learning to Develop Problem Solving and Writing SkillsStudents majoring in computing and engineering fields generally perceive that courses in theirmajor are not related to the general education (liberal arts and sciences) courses required for theirdegree. This separation prevents the transfer of skills between courses in the major and generaleducation courses that could result in mutually beneficial synergies. To challenge theirpreconceptions and to help students develop connections between major and general educationcourses, we developed a learning community that links two courses in Computer Systems (onecourse is an introductory course to problem solving and computer programming, CS1, and thesecond course is an introduction to the field of computer systems, CS0) and EnglishComposition.In this presentation we will describe an innovative approach to the teaching of computing andwriting to first-year students majoring in a Computer Systems degree at a college of technology.The theme of the learning community is the development of narratives (a plot or schematicstructuring of temporal actions) and their implementation as a video game prototype. Commonstudent learning objectives and general education student learning outcomes for our coursesinclude: use creativity to solve problems; understand and navigate systems; work productivelywithin and across disciplines; use the tools needed for communication, inquiry, creativity, andanalysis; gather, interpret, evaluate, and apply information discerningly from a variety ofsources; and communication in diverse settings and groups, using writing (both reading andwriting), oral (both speaking and listening), and visual means.In the English composition class, students write original video game narratives in groups; in theirCS1 computer programming class students implement these stories using Alice, a computerprogramming environment that supports the creation of three-dimensional animations; and, in theCS0 survey course, students explore architectural and hardware issues to describe a possiblegame delivery platform. The concepts and skills introduced in the computer courses arecontextualized by a problem (game design) that is relevant to students and connected to conceptsand skills developed in the writing course. Moreover, traditional English composition is taught toconnect to the computing courses that first-year students take. The common student assignmentacross the three courses in this learning community is a design document which includes analysis(background and problem description, target audience, review of existing projects and mediaselection), design (user characteristics, goals and objectives, and description of the deliveryplatform), and project description (narrative of project design, review of relevant literature,flowchart of the entire project, and storyboards). When given the chance to work on ameaningful project of their own choosing, students collaboratively created video gameprototypes by leveraging their problem-solving, programming, and writing abilities gained inthese three courses.

Lansiquot, R. D., & Satyanarayana, A., & Cabo, C. (2014, June), Using Interdisciplinary Game-based Learning to Develop Problem Solving and Writing Skills Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23267

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