Refurbishing the Educational Escape Room for Programming: Lowering the Threshold and Raising the Ceiling
Keywords:Escape rooms, Game development, Game-based learning, Programming education, K-12 education
Programming education at university level has often been identified as problematic learning. At the same time, prognosis for future labour market is increased need for professionals with programming and related skills. To meet demands of future society, K-12 schools around the world have integrated programming in the curriculum. However, research show challenges for integrating programming in K-12 education. Challenges include students’ and teachers’ struggle with learning and teaching programming, lack of time to properly incorporate programming in existing teaching and learning, and insufficient support for teachers. This study addresses these challenges by designing, developing, and evaluating an educational game on programming that combines the idea of game-based learning with digital escape rooms. In the game, the player develops knowledge about programming concepts to escape 10 rooms. The study’s main research question was: What are K-12 students’ perceptions of the game and what do they considered to be important design factors for a digital escape room game on computer programming? A design science approach was used for designing, developing, and evaluating a web-based escape room game on programming. This was conducted in a five-step process: 1) Explicating the problem, 2) Defining the requirements, 3) Designing and developing the artefact, 4) Demonstrating the artefact, and 5) Evaluating the artefact. The game was tested and evaluated by 32 K-12 students with a questionnaire during the autumn semester of 2021 and spring semester of 2022. Collected data were then analysed and grouped into categories to answer the study’s aim and research question. Findings of the study show several suggestions for further development and important design factors to consider when developing a digital escape room game. The next steps of research are to combine these findings with evaluations from teachers, and to incorporate this in an updated version of the game.