If memory serves: towards designing and evaluating a game for teaching pointers to undergraduate students

Monica M. McGill, Chris Johnson, James Atlas, Durell Bouchard, Chris Messom, Ian Pollock, Michael James Scott

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Games can serve as a valuable tool for enriching computer science education, since they can facilitate a number of conditions that can promote learning and instigate affective change. As part of the 22nd ACM Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE 2017), the Working Group on Game Development for Computer Science Education convened to extend their prior work, a review of the literature and a review of over 120 educational games that support computing instruction. The Working Group builds off this earlier work to design and develop a prototype of a game grounded in specific learning objectives. They provide the source code for the game to the computing education community for further review, adaptation, and exploration. To aid this endeavor, the Working Group also chose to explore the research methods needed to establish validity, highlighting a need for more rigorous approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of the use of games in computer science education. This report provides two distinct contributions to the body of knowledge in games for computer science education.We present an experience report in the form of a case study describing the design and development of If Memory Serves, a game to support teaching pointers to undergraduate students. We then propose guidelines to validate its effectiveness rooted in theoretical approaches for evaluating learning in games and media.We include an invitation to the computer science education community to explore the game's potential in classrooms and report on its ability to achieve the stated learning outcomes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationITiCSE-WGR’17 Proceedings of the 2017 ITiCSE Conference Working Group Reports
    Subtitle of host publicationJuly 3–5, 2017 Bologna, Italy
    EditorsJudithe Sheard, Ari Korhonen
    Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
    PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
    Number of pages22
    ISBN (Electronic)9781450356275
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventAnnual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education - Working Groups Reports 2017 - Bologna, Italy
    Duration: 3 Jul 20175 Jul 2017
    https://dl.acm.org/doi/proceedings/10.1145/3174781 (Proceedings)
    https://dl.acm.org/action/showFmPdf?doi=10.1145%2F3174781 (Proceedings)


    ConferenceAnnual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education - Working Groups Reports 2017
    Abbreviated titleITiCSE-WGR 2017
    Internet address


    • Computer memory
    • Design
    • Development
    • Educational
    • Games
    • Learning
    • Pointers
    • Research methods
    • Serious
    • Validation framework

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