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Study Finds Clues on How to Keep Kids Engaged With Educational Games

By NCSU News

July 19, 2013

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North Carolina State University (NCSU) researchers are developing a game-based curriculum that teaches middle-school students about computer science principles.

As part of the project, the team has conducted a study aimed at determining the effectiveness of educational gaming tasks in teaching computer science concepts and at monitoring the level of engagement of students. The researchers divided students from a local middle school into two-person teams, and tested each team on the game "Engage," which allows only one student at a time to control gameplay. They found that for each team, the student more likely to stay engaged was the one actively performing the game tasks, while the second student would often lose focus.

The finding could help improve game design, says NCSU professor Kristy Boyer. "For example, we could assign tasks to the navigator [the second student] that are critical to team success and make sure that each student has an opportunity to take the controls during each gameplay session," Boyer says.

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