50. CODESPELLS: ENCOURAGING AND EMPOWERING MORE PEOPLE TO LEARN COMPUTER SCIENCE THROUGH AN EXPLORATIVE VIDEO GAME

Department: Computer Science & Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): William Griswold | Beth Simon

Primary Student
Name: Sarah Marie Esper
Email: sesper@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858-534-9669
Grad Year: 2015

Student Collaborators
Stephen Foster, srfoster@cs.ucsd.edu

Abstract
There are more software jobs available than we have students graduating with software degrees. With software positions critical in all fields, we also need more students graduating with other degrees to be literate in computer science. One of the biggest problems is the lack of standardization of computing courses in primary and secondary US schools. Though there are efforts to improve this situation, alternative approaches to learning computer science need to be explored. Though in the past, video games have been viewed negatively because of their addictive nature, it is becoming apparent that we can encourage students to spend as much time on their education as they do on their entertainment. A noticeable theme in alternative approaches to computer science education is "gamification". CodeSpells expands on these efforts by making the application for learning computer science a video game that is accessible and explorative. We are using the storyline of the video game as the method for progressing students through learning goals. We allow students to explore the space, rather than follow explicit instructions and through this exploration students can fully grasp the intricacies of computing concepts that are sometimes difficult to teach in a typical lecture setting.

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