NanoDoc: Designing an Adaptive Serious Game for Programming With Working Examples Support




Serious games, adaptive support, programming, worked examples


There is an increased interest in serious games about programming, particularly for younger ages. The ability to evoke motivation and retain engagement leads to better learning efficiency and a positive educational impact. Serious games usually include support systems to assist novice users. In recent years there have been attempts to enhance support with intelligent tutoring systems. These systems adapt and provide personalized learning by analyzing user behaviour. Although this is a positive evolution, support still remains in the form of hints, images and videos. The paper describes an alternative adaptive method for support with working examples. An expert solution to a similar problem is displayed to the students allowing them to address the problem and start the solving process by analogy. Our previous research showed that working examples can reduce cognitive load during problem-solving and increase the student's educational results in comparison to traditional techniques. This paper presents the design of NanoDoc, a serious game for teaching the programming concepts of sequence and iteration to elementary school students. It features adaptive support with editable and executable working examples. Each example can be examined, edited and executed freely by the user until the required knowledge level is sufficient to solve the similar problem at hand. The adaptation method is based on a Fuzzy Logic algorithm and the dynamic modelling of user knowledge level. The paper also provides some preliminary results on student usage in the classroom and a questionnaire about the game experience. Plans for future research include investigating if adaptive support with working examples can reduce cognitive load even further and how learning is affected.