Using gaming to improve advanced programming skills
The successful mastering of any new programming language or methodology can be a difficult task for students to achieve. The abstract and mathematical nature of computer programming has been noted as one of the major stumbling blocks students face. In fact, this issue has been identified as one of main reasons for the declines in enrollment in some Computer Science programmes around the world. To overcome these issues, a number of new teaching approaches have been formulated and applied to introductory programming courses. One such approach is electronic or computer gaming, which is used to wrap some of the mundane, abstract aspects of computer programming in a more approachable form. Computer games can also be used to create a learning environment that allows students to explore and experiment with the new concepts using representations that they can relate to. This article presents the preliminary results of using computer games as a mechanism for introducing students to fundamental object-oriented programming principles in an advanced programming course. Using this approach, the performance of students improved in both coursework and examinations, when compared to previous years.
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