Formative evaluation of an adaptive game for engaging learners of programming concepts in K-12

  • Renny S. N. Lindberg Vrije Universiteit Brussels
  • Teemu H. Laine Luleå University of Technology


As the global demand for programmers is soaring, several countries have integrated programming into their K-12 curricula. Finding effective ways to engage children in programming education is an important objective. One effective method for this can be presenting learning materials via games, which are known to increase engagement and motivation. Current programming education games often focus on a single genre and offer one-size-fits-all experience to heterogeneous learners. In this study, we presented Minerva, a multi-genre (adventure, action, puzzle) game to engage elementary school students in learning programming concepts. The game content is adapted to play and learning styles of the player to personalize the gameplay. We conducted a formative mixed-method evaluation of Minerva with 32 Korean 6th grade students who played the game and compared their learning outcomes with 32 6th grade students who studied the same concepts using handouts. The results indicated that, in terms of retention, learning was equally effective in both groups. Furthermore, the game was shown to facilitate engagement among the students. These results, together with uncovered issues, will guide Minerva’s further development.

Author Biographies

Renny S. N. Lindberg, Vrije Universiteit Brussels
Holds a Master's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from AJou University, South Korea. His research largely focuses on gamification and education games. His other intrest include marine life preservation and usability in technologies.Lindberg is currently pursuing his Phd degree at Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Teemu H. Laine, Luleå University of Technology

Teemu H. Laine received a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Eastern Finland in 2012. He worked more than five years at the Ajou University in the Republic of Korea before assuming his current position as an Associate Professor at the Luleå University of Technology in Sweden. His current research focuses on context-aware applications for education and well-being, and his other research interests include games, augmented and virtual reality, software architectures, and ICT for development.

How to Cite
Lindberg, R., & Laine, T. (2018). Formative evaluation of an adaptive game for engaging learners of programming concepts in K-12. International Journal of Serious Games, 5(2), 3 - 24.

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