2007 Computers and Education

Mike Carbonaro, Duane Szafron, Maria Cutumisu, and Jonathan Schaeffer, Computer-game construction: A gender-neutral attractor to Computing Science, Computers and Education 55 (3), November 2010, 1098-1111 abstract or browser version pdf (preprint).


Enrollment in Computing Science university programs is at a dangerously low level. A major reason for this is the general lack of interest in Computing Science by females. In this paper, we discuss our experience with using a computer game construction environment as a vehicle to encourage female participation in Computing Science. Experiments with game construction in grade 10 English classes showed that females enjoyed this activity as much as males and were just as successful. In this paper, we argue that: a) computer game construction is a viable activity for teaching higher-order thinking skills that are essential for Science; b) computer game construction that involves scripting teaches valuable Computing Science abstraction skills; c) this activity is an enjoyable introduction to Computing Science; and d) outcome measures for this activity are not male-dominated in any of the three aspects (higherorder thinking, Computing Science abstraction skills, activity enjoyment). Therefore, we claim that this approach is a viable gender-neutral approach to teaching Computing Science in particular and Science in general that may increase female participation in the discipline.