Computational Thinking in Zoombinis

gallery walk This is a station in the
Cyberlearning 2017 Gallery Walk.

Elizabeth Rowe

The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis was the first in a series of three award-winning computational thinking games developed in the mid-1990s. In August 2015, TERC and partners re-launched Zoombinis for tablets and desktops for the commercial market. The Educational Gaming Environments (EdGE) group at TERC is studying how playing Zoombinis can help upper elementary and middle school learners build implicit computational thinking skills that teachers can leverage in formal instruction. Building on prior work with the digital science learning game, Impulse, we are combining video analysis and educational data mining to identify implicit computational thinking that emerges through gameplay (Rowe, Asbell-Clarke & Baker 2015).

EdGE researchers are currently analyzing synchronized screen activity video and log data from elementary learners, middle school learners, and computer scientists. Players spend 15 minutes playing each of five Zoombinis puzzles. For every puzzle, each round of gameplay is coded for evidence of specific CT skills (e.g., problem decomposition, pattern recognition, algorithmic thinking, abstraction), with a sample double-coded to establish inter-rater reliability. We will use the human coding and log data to create detectors (e.g., classification algorithms) inferring each CT skill. By studying video and click data from these learners and computer scientists playing the game, we will identify systematic, automated ways of predicting implicit computational thinking skills from gameplay behaviors. This poster with video examples will share results of this work-in-progress.