Using Tournament-Based Assignments to Motivate Students in Introductory Computer Science Courses

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Student
Bale, Travis Lafe
Degree
MS
Defense date
2013-05-31
Department
Computer Science and Applications
Commitee
Edwards, Stephen H., Chair
Tilevich, Eli, Member
Perez-Quinones, Manuel A., Member
Abstract
Instructors are hard pressed to create new and exciting projects to use in introductory Computer Science courses. These types of assignments not only have to teach students new concepts but also must cater to the various skill levels that are present in introductory courses. One solution that has been suggested is to used game-based assignment where students develop either a game of a AI strategy capable of playing a game. While these assignments have been shown to motivate students who are learning about programming, there are many drawbacks to using them. Most of these drawbacks come from the time commitment needed to create these assignments.<br /><br />To counter these drawbacks we have created the Genava Framework, a tool which helps instructors and students to create games and strategies which are playable by the framework. Further, all games and strategies compatible with the framework can be used in tournaments in which multiple strategies can compete to see which one is most effective. This allows a tournament to be added to any game-based assignment with minimal additional effort.<br /><br />To test the effectiveness of our framework, it was used to develop a tournament-based assignment for an introductory CS course. Students created strategies for the assignment which then competed in a tournament. The framework was able to handle a tournament involving 147 different strategies without error. Students also were surveyed to collect their opinions on tournament-based assignments and a majority indicated they were enjoyable and recommended their continued use.
ETD Page
http://hdl.handle.net/10919/23118

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