Serious games as innovative formative assessment tools for programming in Higher Education


  • Thomas Hainey University of the West of Scotland
  • Gavin Baxter University of the West of Scotland
  • Julie Black University of the West of Scotland
  • Kenneth Yorke University of the West of Scotland
  • Julius Bernikas University of the West of Scotland
  • Natalia Chrzanowska University of the West of Scotland
  • Fraser McAulay University of the West of Scotland



games-based learning, formative assessment, programming, Higher Education, serious games


Serious games are becoming increasingly popular as alternative supplementary learning approaches across all disciplines at all levels. Learners are more enabled to become more actively involved, not only in the learning process but also in the design and development of innovative formative assessment tools. This paper will present four serious games for programming education developed as part of a Serious Games honours year module in Higher Education at the University of the West of Scotland. Computer Games Development students were tasked as part of a research project to design and implement a serious game for students in their course or other Computer Science related courses in earlier years to provide their peers with innovative games for the purposes of formative assessment. It was hoped that the participants could enhance the engagement of courses that they had already passed but also utilise their creative Games Development skills in a new productive way to enhance the assessments in their own course having had the experience.  Permitting students to design their own formative serious game assessments in this way enabled enhanced creativity with the students creatively tackling the overall problem in insightful and surprising ways. This paper will look at four games created for the purposes of teaching programming by analysing the overall learning outcomes, development process and providing a description of the games. The idea is to provide insight into the development process of serious games for programming education in terms of similarities, differences and to produce a basic framework for development in relation to content, assessment, and game mechanics. The paper will produce an overview of the excellent games created and present a case for increased active involvement of students to develop their own serious games – particularly on Computer Games degree or college courses.