Slide 1

Games-based Learning of
Systems Analysis and Design
Dr Jon Tepper
School of Science and Technology
T: 0115 848 8363 | E:[email protected]
Common core
module: no free
Challenge of
Learning Systems
Analysis & Design
Building on what
they already know
Impact of new
Teaching and
Common core modules: no free lunch!
Systems Analysis &
Design (20/30/40
1)Select an appropriate
systems development
2)Analyse a system
using appropriate
systems thinking and
problem solving
3)Construct an effective
project and risk
assessment plan
4)Formulate a set of
process and related logic
5)Formulate a
normalised data model
Spanning 10 courses in total, 200+ students per year, split into groups of 4-5 for the coursework
Learning Systems Analysis & Design
• Requires students to
plan, analyse and
• Traditional
lectures, seminars
and labs struggle to
promote these skills
(Oh Navarro & Van
der Hoek, 2005)
• Year 1 students
have little affinity
to learning software
engineering (Shaw &
Dermoudy, 2005)
Build on what they already know!
• Basic tenet of constructivism (Piaget, 1960; Bruner,
1977; Vygotsky, 1980)
• Knowledge of the world is specific to the individual
o Students’ construct their own understanding of the
world using own perceptual and conceptual
• Adaptation is key - initial conceptual structures are
continually being adapted in response to new
experiences, actions and knowledge
• Social interaction is essential for validating
new/existing conceptual structures
Implications for Teaching
• Remember: students perceive their environment
differently to us (Biggs & Tang, 2011)
o Mismatch in expectations will lead to
disequilibrium in teaching system
o Consequences: disengagement, inappropriate
study techniques, answering the wrong question
o Set clear expectations and ensure agreement
• Always focus on what the student is doing
o Apply constructive alignment (Biggs & Tang,
2011) i.e. getting students to engage in learning
activities that are likely to result in their achieving
the learning outcomes
o Build on their existing knowledge….even if it
doesn’t relate directly to the content
We can all play games!
“Games foster play, which produces a state of flow,
which increases motivation, which supports the
learning process…..well-designed game mechanics
can result in learning experiences which are
intrinsically motivating”
(Paras and Bizzocchi, 2005)
Games-based learning (GBL) approaches apply the
principles of game play to educational contexts
Most common approach is to develop computer
games to create immersive environments using
virtual reality and/or multi-media to help students
learn and problem solve
Why are games engaging?
• In his popular book, Marc
Prensky (2001, p106)
revealed the following
form of fun
form of play
have rules
have goals
have outcomes and
Groff et al (2010) found evidence to support this
GBL is not new in teaching SE/SA&D
• SimSE: software simulations of managing large
teams and projects and dealing with project plans,
budgets and unexpected events. A single player
game that situates the student as a project
manager. (Oh Navarro & van der Hoek, 2005)
• SimJavaSP: an interactive web-based, graphical
simulation game of SDLC, student acting as project
manager (Shaw and Dermoudy, 2005)
• Hainey et al (2011) developed a GBL game
to teach requirements collection and
proved as effective as role-playing and
more effective than paper-based case
• Need to balance trade-off
between enjoyment and
educational value
• Drappa and Ludewig (2000)
reported that their
simulation game, SESAM,
enhanced students’
motivation but failed to
sufficiently improve either
their learning or skills due
to lack of interactive
• How about having students
design a game rather than
playing it?
• Prof Rachel McCrindle did
just this for her 1st year
SWEng students at Uni of
• Not a computer game but a
board game
• Excellent student outcomes
reported after 6 years of
Won HEA Engineering Subject
Centre’s Teaching Award 2010
My approach to teaching differently
• Create an open-ended GBL-based assessment brief
• Follow McCrindle’s shift towards designing a game
Assessment brief
You are required to design and model a board
game which teaches managers about a systems
development methodology. The methodology
must be relevant to your course (e.g. agile
methodology for BSc (H) Computer Science with
Games Tech, spiral methodology for BSc (H)
Information Systems).
REPORT consisting of following sections:
I. Introduction to Team and Methodology
II. Team Concept Maps
III. Project Schedule & Risk Assessment
IV. System Proposal
The name of your game; Game description; Motivation or
inspiration; Game objective; list of functional and nonfunctional requirements; a summary of the Use Cases; the
following three process models: Context level DFD, Logical
level 0 DFD, Logical level 1 DFD for a level 0 DFD process;
A logic model illustrating some calculation within the game
(i.e. Structured English, Decision Tree or Decision Table);
Logical Data Models consisting of a single table containing
UNF, 1NF, 2NF and 3NF data and an ERD for 3NF tables
showing key attributes only
V. Evaluation
The game must teach management about each
of the four phases of the systems development
lifecycle, namely, planning, analysis, design and
implementation. In order for you to design and
model the game, you will be required to move
through the Planning and Analysis stages
Some interesting outcomes…
From not very original….
Teaches management about a prototyping methodology
Based on monopoly
Aim is to complete 3 board
iterations (prototypes) each
time gaining a letter of W, I
or N
Obstacles, traps, perks and
question cards relating
aspects of SDLC &
methodology to add
to original and interesting….
Teaches management about Spiral Methodology
2-6 player board game
Start at the centre of spiral
and work way around to the
outside of spiral through each
cell by taking turns to roll
dice and answer question
Each cell has a number of
points to win or lose
depending on answering
questions (min=0)
Planning section includes ‘risk
assessment’ questions which
doubles players scores
Winner is the one who exists
the Spiral with the highest
to showing excellence!
Teaches management about Extreme Programming Agile Methodology
To win, a player must either:
o be first to the centre within 45 mins OR
o (if no-one makes it) the one with the most
code/test objects
Inspired by Talisman and
AtmosFear board games
Timer for 45 mins starts
game and is monitored by
Players roll dice and move
around the board in turn,
answering questions to pick
up code and test objects
A number of levels on the
board – each refers to a
version of the system and can
only move to next level if
answer key ‘user acceptance
test’ question
Regular interrupts by DVD
halts timer and issues
instructions to do activities
Impact and evaluation
Impact of new approach
3 Year
2012 results saw significant improvement over 3YA
More challenged students better able to engage with module
Robust improvements in mean & median indicate most students
advantaged by the approach
Although poorer performance observed for max, not entirely unexpected as
previous assessment scenarios were closed rather than open-ended =
more demand on students as contextualise the assessment for themselves
Post-curriculum review version of module (2012/2013): Min=Fmid (32%)
Avg=Mid 2.2, Median=Low 2.1, Max High 1st (89)
IO3YA – Improvement over 3 Year Average
Helped take out basic
knowledge of SAD to a
higher level. We now feel
we have modelling skills
to carry out projects to a
high standard
Helped us to learn the
principles in the textbook
– brought them to life
Helped us to understand
the principles of SAD as
it made us go through the
stages ourselves to design
and model the game
Not a good idea – we felt a
system such as an on-line
ordering system would have
been better as we would apply
to real-world situation
‘showed’ us the advantages
and disadvantages of
different methodologies and
relevance to our
programme. We can now
justify the methdologies we
Proved resourceful for
learning the tools we
have been taught
however we recommend
you are actually required
to build a prototype of
the board game rather
than just model it!
• Presented an approach that moved away from closed
assessment scenarios to open-ended ones
• A variant of McCrindle’s GBL approach was taken to have
students design a board game to learn a systems
development methodology (rather than by playing a digital
• Inherently constructivist:
o Common knowledge of board games used as a means for
learning subject-specific knowledge
o concept mapping was used to enable groups to visualise
and evolve their understanding over time.
Thank you!
Biggs, J., and Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at
university. 4th ed. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher
Education & Open University Press.
Bruner, J. S. (1977). The Process of Education, Cambridge, Mass:
Harvard University Press.
Drappa, A., and Ludewig, J (2000) Simulation in Software Engineering
Education Education. In Proceedings of the 22nd International
Conference on Software Engineering, Limerick, Ireland, ACM Press, pp.
Groff, J., Howells, C. and Cranmer, S. (2010). The Impact of Games in
the Classroom: Evidence from schools in Scotland. Bristol: Futurelab.
Hainey, T., Connolly, T.M., Stansfield, M.H., and Boyle, E.A. (2011).
"Evaluation of a Games to Teach Requirements Collection and Analysis
in Software Engineering at Tertiary Education Level", Computers and
Education, Vol. 56, Issue 1, pp 21-35.
McCrindle, R. (2010) Software engineering –engagement through
innovative and interaction. Higher Education Academy, Engineering
Subject Centre, Teaching Award 2010 (accessed 05 September
Oh Navarro, E., and van der Hoek, A (2005) On the Role of Learning
Theories in Furthering Software Engineering Education. In H.J.C. Ellis,
S.A. Demurjian, and J.F. Naveda (Eds), Software Engineering: Effective
Teaching and Learning Approaches and Practices, IGI Global, 2008.
Paras, B. and Bizzocchi, J. (2005). Games, Motivation and Effective
Learning: An integrated model for educational game design.
Proceedings of the DiGRA 2005 Conference, ‘Changing Views:Worlds in
Play’, Vancouver, Canada
Piaget, J. (1960). The Psychology of Intelligence. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield
Adams & Co.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Games-Based Learning. New York: McGrawHill
Shaw, K. and Dermoudy, J. (2005). Engendering an empathy for
software engineering. In Proceedings of the 7th Australasian Computing
Education Conference (ACE2005), Newcastle, Australia, 42, 135–144
Vygotsky, L. S (1980) Mind in Society, (Eds. M. Cole., V. John-Steiner,
S. Scribner, and E. Souberman), Harvard University Press; New Ed
edition, 15 Oct 1980.

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