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Educational software design

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Title:
Educational software design gender bias in children's software, principles of game design and an implementation of a game for girls
Portion of title:
Gender bias in children's software, principles of game design and an implementation of a game for girls
Creator:
Land-Bridgens, Desiree J
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vii, 117 leaves : illustrations ; 29 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Women -- Education ( lcsh )
Sexism in education ( lcsh )
Education -- Data processing ( lcsh )
Computers and children ( lcsh )
Computers and children ( fast )
Education -- Data processing ( fast )
Sexism in education ( fast )
Women -- Education ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 111-117).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Science, Computer Science.
General Note:
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Statement of Responsibility:
by Desiree J. Land-Bridgens.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
34872762 ( OCLC )
ocm34872762
Classification:
LD1190.E52 1995m .L36 ( lcc )

Full Text
Educational Software Design: Gender Bias in Children's Software,
Principles of Game. Design and an Implementation of a
Game for Girls
by
Desiree J. Land-Bridgens
B.A., Hofstra University, 1985
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science
Computer Science


This thesis for the Master of Science
degree by
Desiree J. Land-Bridgens
has been approved
by
3/TAf


Land-Bridgens, Desiree (M.S., Computer Science)
Educational Software Design: Gender Bias in Children's Software,
Principles of Game Design and an Implementation of a
Game for Girls
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Jody Paul
ABSTRACT
In order to address the problem of the lack of females pursuing
technological careers, this research explores concepts in software design
that make computers more appealing to girls. In addition, this thesis
describes the design of a computer game for girls ages 10-13 that exposes
them to concepts in science. A more "girl-friendly" approach to teaching
science is presented. This thesis examines related research in educational
software models, Piaget's cognitive structure theory, and game design
factors. Portions of the game have been prototyped for the thesis.
Although the prototype is not a complete system, enough of the design
was completed to demonstrate the feasibility of the concept.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's
thesis. I recommend its publication.
Signej
Paul
iii


CONTENTS
Chapter
1. Introduction......................................1
2. Related Research on Gender Issues.................T
2.1 Introduction..................................7
2.2 Girls in the Science Gassroom.................8
2.3 Male^Biased Science Curriculum...............13
2.4 RolerModels..................................14
2.5 Girl-Friendly Science........................16
2.6 Girls and Computers..........................18
2.7 Girls Style of Play..........................25
2.8 Summary......................................26
2.7 Conclusion...................................28
3. Related Research on Game. Design...................30
3.1 Learning Theories and Software Models........31
3.1.1 Behaviorist Psychology.......................32
3.1.2 Drill and Practice. Model....................32
3.1.3 Cognitive. Structures Theory.................34
3.1.3.1 Piaget.......................................35
IV


3.1.4 Discovery Learning Model.....................38
3.1.5 Constructivist Model.........................40
3.1.6 Choosing Discovery Learning..................41
'3.2 Cognitive Development........................45
3.2.1 Formal Operations Period.....................46
3.2.2 Metacognition................................48
3.3 Motivation...................................49
3.3.1 Challenge....................................51
3.3.2 Fantasy......................................53
3.3.3 Curiosity....................................54
3.4 Curriculum...................................55
3.5 Summary.................................... 60
4. System Design................................64
4.1 General Specifications.......................64
4.2 Interfaces...................................65
4.2.1 Hardware. Interfaces.........................65
4.2.2 Software Interfaces..........................65
4.2.3 Human Interfaces.............................65
4.3 Presumed Student Knowledge...................66
v


4.4 User Interface...............................66
4.4.1 Aesthetics...................................66
4.4.1.1 Color........................................67
4.4rl.2 Sound...................................... 67
4.4.2 Start-up Screens.............................68
4.5 User Assistance..............................69
4.5.1 Provided Materials...........................69
4.5.1.1 Lab Book.....................................69
4.5.1.2 Hint Button..................................72
4.5.1.3 "Help" Words.................................72
4.6 The. Game....................................73
4. 6.1 The Stage....................................73
4.6.2 Motivation...................................73
4.6.3 Starting the Game............................76
4.6.4 Inside the.House.............................77
4.6.5 The First Experiment.........................77
4.6.6 The Lab......................................80
4. 6.7 Other Scenarios..............................85
5. Prototype Status and Conclusions...................86
vi


5.1 Prototype Status..........................86
5.1.1 Path Implemented in Prototype.............86
5.1.1.1 Dining Room...............................89
5.1.1.2 Jars......................................89
5.1.1.3 Kitchen...................................90
5.2 Next Steps................................92
5.2.1 Completing the Protoype...................92
5.2.2 Testing the Prototype.....................93
5.3 Conclusions...............................93
Appendix
A. Annotated Bibliography..........................96
References ........................................Ill
vii


1. Introduction
Math, computers and science. Knowledge of these, topics will open
career doors of the future. Although math and science are becoming
increasingly important in this technology driven world, many Americans
are math and science illiterate. (Williams 1994) Many do not understand
the basic principles and the use of these.2 related fields. Most of the.public
is unaware of how math affects their everyday life. When someone says
"I'm not a numbers person" most tend to offer nods of understanding.
(Williams 1994) Because the economics of our world will be driven by
technology, it is important that we. decrease the level of math and science
illiteracy we have in this country. Already, American students lag far
behind their Japanese and Western European counterparts in science and
math skills. (Cole 1987) In order to be globally competitive, this country
needs more, people specializing in these fields and even more people who
can understand the. concepts behind these, technical fields. There is a
difference, between the. ability to perform mathematical calculations and
having a feel for numbers which means figuring out how and when to
apply computational techniques and whether the answers make sense.
Skills that rely on these, higher-order thinking skills will be. in high
1


demand in the work force. (Hopkins 1991) "Technology squeezes the
nonthinking task out of work, and so places a premium on employees'
intellectual skills, particularly on their ability to acquire, organize and
interpret information." (Hopkins 1991)
How can we greatly change the number of math and science
illiterates in this country? I suggest we start making these subjects more
enticing to women. Women are approximately 50% of the population,
yet they account for only 13% of all scientists and even these are heavily
concentrated in the social and behavioral sciences. (Cole 1987) It is not
just in the field of science that they are lacking. There has been a
significant decline in students enrolling in computer science programs
over the past three years. The most significant portion of the decline can
be attributed to women. (Martin 1992) This has been particularly startling
because computer science is a relatively new field which has been open to
women since its beginning approximately 25 years ago. When the flood of
computer science undergraduates hit the universities from 1978-1985,
almost half were women. ( Martin 1992)
The number of women who chose careers in technological fields is
not the only argument for making the study of science and math more
appealing to girls. No matter what career path they choose, many young
girls have a desire to be a wife and mother. Yet, girls tend to grade down
2


the degree of trained intelligence needed to be a successful wife and
mother. A mother's daily tasks, however, demand that she be competent
in psychology, home economics, the fine arts, political economy, public
affairs etc. (Albjerg 1961) Her education, therefore, should be of no less
significance than that of an engineer or historian. President Griswold of
Yale maintains that the better the education of the mother, "the better the
education of her children and the better the school." When an able girl
avoids a "solid" subject for a pleasing but superficial course for example,
biology for baton twirling her intellectual growth is restricted and society
suffers a needless waste. (Albjerg 1961)
My research attempts to define when girls begin to turn away from
the subjects of science and math in school. It begins to happen in
elementary school but increases dramatically by the time they reach junior
high school age. It is at this time that they begin to feel less confident in
the classroom, particularly in the math and science classroom. I have also
explored why it is that girls are less likely to be found in the computer lab,
or in the video arcade. I examine the hypothesis that the main reason
girls are not using the computers as much as boys is that the. software
developed for children is really designed for boys, not girls. I discuss what
it is about games that girls like and how that differs from these games
designed for boys. In brief, boys enjoy fast action games that require fast
reactions while.girls are more attracted to the aesthetics of agame. Girls
3


appear to prefer to spend more time thinking about their next action in a
game.
My research hypothesis is that a game designed for girls between the
ages of 10-13, that explores the basics of science will help girls to realize
that science can be. interesting to them. I have chosen that age. group
because, that is the age when most girls are. beginning to lose confidence, in
the classroom as I will discuss later.
I have designed a game that allows girls to understand what science
is and that a career in a technological field will not make them a freak. In
order to design this game, I researched the areas of cognitive development
to understand what the users may or may not understand and how I could
get them to retain information they learn from this game. I also looked at
software modelsused for past software game design and the teaching
methods each of these follow. I will explain why I have decided that
"discovery learning" would be the most effective for my goals.
The information that I would like them to be exposed to falls under
the topic of curriculum. I outlined what ideas or concepts I would like my
users to be exposed to. I will use Chemistry as the discipline for my
outline because there, is data that indicates that girls seem to have more
interest in chemistry than other physical sciences. (Levine 1992) Note that
4


this game is not designed to teach chemistry or science, but merely to
expose the girls to the concepts involved in ways that may increase their
interest in these subjects.
Maria Montessori, one. of Italy's first female, scientists, studied the
way children learn throughout her lifetime. While she is most famous
for her work with children between the ages of 2 -5 she. also studied
children that are entering adolescence. Her main philosophy with the 2-5
year olds is that they need to be allowed to explore their environment to
understand the world around them. When left to their own explorations,
they were, able to learn for themselves. They were, able to learn how to
learn. She states that
...the procedure adopted by us with children under
nine years of age could be applied to those of more
advanced age, and we. affirm that at all stages of school
life, it is essential that no obstruction be placed in the
way of the individual activity of the children in the
course of development. Only thus can they obey the
'natural process of psychic development'. It is true that
the teacher or lecturer has an ever more, important
role, to play as culture reaches higher levels, but this
role consists rather in stimulating interest than in
actual teaching. When children are interested in a
subject they tend to spend a long time studying it, or in
other words, trying to find their way in it until they
reach a kind of 'maturity7 by means of their own
experience. After that an acquisition has not only been
made, but it tends to extend itself even further.
(Montessori pp. 54-55)
5


It is my hope that this game will stimulate the interest of my users in
chemistry and other sciences, math and computers enough to prod them
to strive for that certain level of maturity that Dr. Montessori discusses.
6


2. Related Research on Gender Issues
This chapter discusses research on gender issues in regard to the
science, math and computer classrooms.
2.1 Introduction
My research addresses the problem of under representation of
females in the areas of science and computers. Girls are less likely to be
found in science, math and computer courses in secondary schools.
However, it appears that girls begin school with little notion of gender
specific subjects. Research suggests that girls as a group outperform boys as
a group in school mathematics in the primary years. (Joffe and Foxman
1986, Klein 1992) Typically girls and boys perform equally well in lower
secondary mathematics ( Parker and Doffer 1987). Where differences
appear, it is likely to be in the area of logic and enumeration in which girls
excel and spatial reasoning in which boys excel. (Keeves and Bourke 1976)
The issue of spatial reasoning is one that will be addressed later in this
chapter. When girls reach secondary school and college, they avoid math
and computer classes and eventually choose careers that do not involve
mathematics. (Klein 1992) A study of college freshman compared male
7


and female attitudes toward math courses and future careers. Results
suggest that men put higher value on math than women did (Lips 1988)
Women often gave 'lack of interest" as their reason for not taking math
courses. It appears that somewhere around the ages of 10-13, girls decide
that math> -science and computers are masculine subjects and few decide
to pursue, them.
It is my belief that a computer game designed specifically for girls
about science would help develop girls interest in these subjects. To
create an effective, computer game, one that 10-13 year-old girls would
play, I had to consider who this audience is, why they steer away from
science, what methods can be. employed to make science more, appealing
to them, how they interact with computers and what types of computer
games appeal to them.
2.2 Girls in the Science. Classroom
One important thing to consider about girls aged 10-13 is that they
are entering adolescence. Most of them are facing tumultuous emotions
as their bodies go through various changes. Moving from "young girl" to
"young woman" involves meeting unique, demands in a culture that both
idealizes and exploits the sexuality of young women while assigning them
8


roles that are less valued than male roles. (AAUW 1992) Large-scale
empirical studies, public-opinion polls and clinical studies that have
followed girls through school all report significant declines in girls' self-
esteem and self-confidence as they move from childhood to early
adolescence (Simmons and Blyth 1987, Harter 1990, AAUW 1992). The
body changes that these girls are. experiencing tend to make, them feel less
sure of themselves. They become self-conscience about their bodies, their
actions, etc. Boys tend to notice these changes and react to them in such a
way to make the girls feel even more self-conscience. This feeling pans out
in the classroom. An interesting observation was made by Joan Draper
(1993) in her study of the merger of 2 single sex schools in England. The
new school which she. calls 'Lymescroft' taught children aged 12-18. Much
of the adjustment of the. girls had to do with dealing with the aggressive,
harassing behavior of the males. This behavior usually included the.boys
making fun of the girls and their bodies. The girls' reaction to this
behavior was usually to ignore it or, less frequently, to fight those boys
who did it. A very interesting example of masculine challenge, occurred in
the science classroom. Because the girls' school had promoted science
education for girls, the girls had experience, in working with the lab
equipment. The boys did not. They were, only taught theory and shown
demonstrations. In the co-ed school lab, the boys began taking over the
equipment. The girls responded to the masculine signals they were
receiving and permitted the boys to dominate the lessons. One of the. girls
9


had this to say "Well, at first we. started to do things for ourselves, but the
boys made such crude comments all the time. They just made comments
and took the mickey, and wouldn't let us get on because they mucked
about all the time so we just gave up." This reinforces the view that some
of the passive behavior of the girls was a deliberate measure that they used
to retain their integrity and avoid being victimized by the boys. (Stanley
1989)
The observations made by Draper seem to be quite typical. Whyte
(1986) performed a study which showed that in science class, girls do write-
ups, experiment cautiously and fetch and carry for the boys. They hang
back from the physical hurly burly of grabbing the best equipment and
leave the boys free to 'hog7 available resources.
It is not only the boys in the class that may intimidate, the girls.
Many researchers have found that teachers, both male and female, tend to
spend more time talking to boys than girls in class. A study done by
Dweck (1978) found that boys tend to get more praise and more blame
than girls. Boys were usually told off for their bad behavior while, they
wereusually praised for good work. Girls, on the other hand, didn't get
reprimanded very much, but when they did, it was usually for poor work.
Their praise was mainly for good behavior. So girls learned that their
work was not always adequate, while the boys learned that they could
10


perform well academically, and if they did not do well, it was probably
because they were misbehaving or not trying. Girls were not able to
attribute academic failing to misbehavior. Therefore, they lost confidence
in their academic ability. Dweck attributed this phenomenon to beamed
helplessness'. She went on to demonstrate that it was a definite, response
to the. teacher's behavior. In her experiment, both boys and girls who were
praised for performance and reprimanded for bad behavior gained
confidence while girls and boys who were reprimanded for performance
and praised for behavior lost confidence.
Another study by Skolnich (1982) also observed the elementary
science classroom. They found that teachers asked boys more questions
than girls, and more direct, open-ended, complex and abstract questions.
Boys answers were discussed longer. Again, girls were praised for neatness
and for following the rules. Boys were praised for academic achievement.
Boys were told to try harder. Girls are told they have done their best.
(Skolnich 1982) This had led to many girls opting out of science by the
third grade. (Cole 1987)
There are other studies out there, that suggest that children as young
as five, years old have already been taught to accept that science is men's
work. Little boys play with active mechanical toys like transformers and
hot wheels, while, girls are encouraged to cuddle their dolls. The. games
11


boys play promote spatial awareness, ability to manipulate objects
mentally, and mechanical reasoning. The end result is that boys score
slightly higher on tests measuring spatial awareness. (Cole 1987)
The idea that boys have, better spatial ability is a controversial one.
There are a considerable range of biological theories that claim to account
for sex differences in spatial ability. Males usually perform better than
females on tasks where subjects have to perceive and manipulate. 2 or 3
dimensional spatial figures. The biological link is said to be, according to
the genetic theory, a recessive gene for superior spatial ability carried on
the X chromosome and therefore inheritable only by men. Another
theory is that hormonal differences between the sexes also produce spatial
ability differences. It is contended that there is a recessive, gene which
determines spatial ability and is activated by the operation of androgens
(male, hormones) ( Whyte. 1986). Biological arguments are inconclusive
and controversial because they can be used to justify conservative views of
sex roles. There, are other reasons boys do better on spatial tests such as
boys' greater experience of games and play which may assist the
development of spatial ability. (Whyte 1986)
12


2.3 Male^Biased Science Curriculum
Another factor deterring girls from being interested in science may
be that most teenagers have the notion that scientists are wierd-looking
creatures who run around mixing potions. (Turecamo 1983) Even if they
are not "weird creatures" they are most likely male. Since most girls have
little or no contact with female scientists, this idea is never invalidated.
Most teachers of science, math and computers are male. Many of the
textbooks are written by males and many of the concepts are presented
from a male perspective. This helps develop the notion that science is a
man's domain. Research has shown that offering a female role model to
girls will strengthen their interest in the. subject, but there seems to be a
general lack of female role models when it comes to the computer or
science, class. ( Reinen 1993)
The. stereotypes about women in science are longstanding. Boys are
often urged to explore mechanical or scientific interests, while girls are
steered toward artistic or literary endeavors. High school guidance
counselors and teachers tend not to encourage young women in high
school to explore their scientific interests. Another impediment for young
women is the. lack of female, high-school science teachers. Young women
have a hard time picturing themselves as scientists when they don't have
role-models. (Turecamo 1983)
13


2.4 Role-Models
The-lack of female role, models goes beyond the classroom.
Throughout this century, when women scientists gained visibility in
popular press, it was usually as one of two extremes- either as a
subordinate assistant or as a "super scientist." Only males tend to be the
subject of articles about "normal, everyday" scientists. Women such as
Marie Curie, and Margaret Mead were depicted as something more than
ordinary. The female, scientist shown in the press was protected from
emotion for she was, above all, a scientist. Research was presented as an
arduous and lonely enterprise that required personal sacrifice. This was
hardly a role model likely to attract young girls. By implying that the
options of a regular family life were closed for all but extraordinary female
scientists, this image, may have, dissuaded many students from choosing a
scientific career. (LaFollette 1988).
In order to give girls a first hand look at female, scientists,
numerous organizations of women scientists have developed programs
that bring them into schools to talk to the girls about science and women
in science. By doing so, they provide a role model for these girls. In
addition to discussing their professional duties, they try to spread the good
14


news that women don't have to end up in dull, dead-end jobs. They
discuss practical interests of a science career like the fact that women in
science can earn a good salary. (Turecamo 1983)
Female role-models need to be present in the textbooks as well. A
study was done in 1990 by Bazler and Simonis (1990) which replicated an
earlier study done, in 1973. The purpose was to examine the number of
illustrations in elementary and secondary science texts and calculate the
frequency of female vs. male appearances in them. The belief was that if
the text lacks images of women and minorities engaged in science
activities, students may view science as an arena exclusively for men.
Therefore, a balanced and comprehensive portrayal of women and
minorities in printed materials is important. The. 1970/73 study showed
that the.textbooks were pervasively gender biased, favoring men. The
study conducted in 1990 copied the. earlier study using current best-selling
high school chemistry text books. Seven books were, examined. Of the
seven, only one. had changed dramatically since its 1970 edition to become
gender fair. The other six texts analyzed were still biased. (Bazler and
Simonis 1990)
It is not only the pictures in these texts that contribute to the
problem. The content of the.texts also contributes to die idea of sdence.for
boys. By the time they reach secondary school, girls and boys differ in
15


many ways. Girls interests center around people, boys around control
(Gilligan 1982). Based on their toys and childhood hobbies, boys have,
much greater experience than girls of tinkering activities. Science
curricula and science books which take for granted the sorts of experiences
and interests which are characteristic of boys but unusual in girls, thereby,
help to create a science with masculine connotations. (Kelly 1985)
2.5 Girl-Friendly Science
These textbooks and the class lessons themselves do not seem to
give girls any reason to be interested in science. Young women are
reluctant to tackle difficult courses which they believe will not be useful to
them. A considerable body of evidence, has established that girls are. more
interested and motivated to study science, if they learn something of its use
and beneficial social applications (Ormerod 1971) Science materials are
often written as if the. value of understanding science is already taken for
granted. It appears that too few links are made with the social, industrial
and human applications of science, in everyday life. Girls have relatively
wider social and humanitarian concerns than boys and unless the social
implications of science, are presented integrally with the body of
knowledge to be learned in the first stages of science, education, they are
less likely to move towards a study of science for its own sake. (Whyte
16


1986)
The "Girls Into Science and Technology" (GIST) project generated
many ideas about making science more.'girl friendly7. Girl friendly
- science builds-on girls interests. For example, human biology is of interest
to both 11 years old boys and girls. Of less interest to the girls is physical
science. To begin a class on the topic of science, one teacher began by
talking about how muscles worked. Another teacher began a class on the
corrosion of metals by asking "what sort of things can be bought as
aerosols?" This was an easy question for the girls who are more familiar
with aerosol cans than boys. (Whyte 1986)
Another feature of 'girls friendly science' is that it should provide
first-hand experience which will help children understand scientific
processes. (Whyte 1986) In the. GIST project many girls also found the
marvels of astronomy and beauty of the microscopic world exciting. An
astronomer talked about why the.sky is blue.and why the sun turns red as
it sets. She demonstrated this effect with a tank of water in which she.
precipitated colloidal sulfur. An electron microscopist showed how crystal
size was affected by formation conditions.. (Smail 1987)
The GIST program developed a list of guidelines for a girl-friendly
science, program which are as follows.
17


a) Set experiments in context by providing background
information about the possible uses and applications of
scientific principles.. Do this, if possible before the ideas
are derived about the experiment- tell the pupils where
they are going and why..
_ ... - b)Xink physical science principles to the human body.
c) Stress safety precautions rather than dangers..
d) Discuss scientific issues:: ex::the microprocessor revolution
and unemployment, energy and the bomb, aiming at a
balanced view of the benefits and disadvantages of
scientific developments..
e) Make aesthetically appealing exhibitions
f) Use imaginative writing as an aid to assimilating scientific
principles and ideas. (Smail).
2.6 Girls and Computers
Another factor that may affect girls in the science world is what
appears to be their intimidation by computers. The amount of computer
use in schools seems to be growing at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, that has
not lessened the feelings of intimidation many girls have found towards
computer interaction.
Computing is more than a set of skills. It is embedded in a social
system consisting of shared values and norms, a special vocabulary and
18


humor, status and prestige, ordering, and differentiation of members from
non-members. It is a culture. The initial socialization to computing is
important. As a result of it, some students learn the skills and acquire the
eagerness they need to delve further into computing. The data of Kielser,
Sproull and-Eccles (1985) shows that women students are significantly
more likely than men to have a negative reaction to their first experience.
These people are most likely to consider themselves non-members of the
computing environment.
This may be. the reason for an observation made, by Fleming and
Huff(1989). Their study shows that women who are introduced to
computers often voluntarily withdraw. Many people, confronted with the
alien task of interacting with a machine may consider withdrawing, but
women more often seem to lack the enthusiasm that would keep them
involved even after reaching a certain level of confidence (Fleming and
Huff 1989)
A factor in this computing culture, is the allocation of resources.
Frequently, boys will dominate the computers at school, even in
preschool. In one preschool, boys literally took over the computer,
creating a computer dub and refusing to let girls either join the computer
club or have access to the computers. As a result, girls spent very little,
time on the computer. When the teachers intervened and set up a time
19


schedule for sharing computer access, the girls spent as much time on the
computers as boys. Apparently, the girls can enjoy the computer and do
like to use it, but not if it means fighting with the. boys to do it. (Kielser,
Sproull, and Ecdes 1985)
Another factor that contributes to girls feeling like "nonmembers"
is that boys are likely to ignore a female member of a computing group
that includes other boys. A researcher constructed three sets of students:
male majority, female majority, and equal numbered (Webb 1984) The
levels of achievement and interaction results were the same, in the
"equal" group. In the female majority group, females showed lower
achievement than did males in the same group and directed most of their
interaction to the. males. Females in the "male majority "group were
ignored by the males who again showed greater achievement. Females
were more responsive, to requests of all group members for help while
males only helped other males. Females, the researcher concluded, may
be more successful in obtaining needed help in an all-female group. (Webb
1984)
The. behavior of a "computing nonmember" in a public arena was
studied by Robinson-Stavely and Cooper (1990) In an attempt to
understand public performance, effects of computer use, two studies were
conducted by Robinson-Stavely and Cooper (1990) to examine the. effect of
20


other peoples' presence on performance in a computing task. They found
that when women used a computer in the presence of another person,
they reported higher levels of situational stress and performed less well
than when they did the same task in private. When men completed the
computer task in public, they performed better and reported significantly
lower levels of situational stress than they did in private. These effects
only occurred among novices, experts were unaffected by the presence of
others.
The second study by Robinson-Stavely and Cooper(1990) was
performed to test whether the gender differences in reaction to the
presence of others were mediated by expectations of success or failure. In
this study, men and women were asked to do the. same computer task in
public or private, but some were told that the task would be difficult for
them. Other were told the. task would be easy for them. No gender
differences were found when the task was done alone and no gender
differences were found in the public performance, condition. Differences
were found in the public performance condition based on expectation.
Those expecting success did better in public than in private whereas those,
expecting failure performed worse.in public. This suggests that the
gender differences are. in fact, a function of expectancies. When an
individual expects failure and there are others present to witness this
failure, it is likely that an arousal, an internal stimulus, is produced that
21


interferes with performance. The arousal produced by others in the case of
expecting success facilitates performance by providing motivation. ( Huff,
Fleming and Cooper 1992).
Another type of arousal was reported in a study by Nelson and
Cooper (1987) who concluded that the way in which an interface reports
errors seems to have an effect on girls. They asked male & female 5th
graders to use a computer program to complete very easy anagrams. For
some of them, the program paused for 15 seconds during the session and
displayed the message "Please WATT for the next question." For others
those same pauses showed "error" messages on the screen that were
unrelated to the task ( such as "*&A%$bus errorxore dumped!!
WARNING on DRIVE 7888*9x0"/) After using the "error" program, girls
felt that they were not as good at computers as others. Males, on the. other
hand, felt they were better at computers than others after the task
irrespective of the. program they used. Males were able to continue with
computing with no negative, feelings even through failure, while women
took failure at these, tasks personally.
One need only to visit a video arcade to see that most children
playing with the games are. male. As early as kindergarten, boys and girls
view video games as more appropriate to boys than girls. (Wilder 1985).
The.boys who play these games are more likely to develop that feeling of
22


"ownership" towards the computer. Masculine software design,
beginning with video arcade games, is preventing girls from developing a
sense of "ownership" toward computers (Wilder 1985). Wilder observes
that boys dominate video games while girls merely act as spectators.
Perhaps the. reason that most girls are not active participants in
these games may be. that most computer games are. designed for boys. An
experiment was performed (Huff, Fleming and Cooper 1992) which had
teachers design educational software for either boy, girls or (gender
unspecified) "children". Designers and independent raters rated these
programs in terms of characteristics like time, pressure, verbal interaction
required, control given the user, etc. They found that the. programs
designed for boys looked like games with time pressure, hand-eye
coordination and competition most important. Programs for girls looked
like "tools" for learning with conversation and goal-based learning. As
anticipated, the programs designed for "children" looked just like those
designed for boys, confirming the. existence of gender-based stereotypes in
the. design of educational software. Programs designed for "students in
general" were, really programs designed for boys. Most interesting is that
80% of the. program designers in that study were female and many
expressed concern that educational software, was malerbiased.
Even games that appear gender unbiased may be male biased. A
23


popular computer game titled "Where in the World is Carmen San
Diego" (WITWICDS) was designed for students grades 5 through college.
It has won two awards- one in 1985 for Best Learning Product from the
Software Publishers Association and in 1986 Outstanding Classroom
Award from Classroom Computer Learning. The game is a detective
game that asks you to find Carmen and her gang of master thieves around
the globe. Along the way, the user picks up interesting information of
geography and the culture of other countries. Included in the game is The
Police Dossiers on 10 suspects. Each "file" contains a one-inch snapshot of
the suspect. Five suspects are men and five are women. Each file contains
a description of their occupation, hobby, auto and a favorite food or piece
of jewelry as well as a short statement on their life of crime. In describing
Nick Brunch, the Police Dossier notes The only thing that interests Nick
are fast cars and fast women." The supposedly staid character, Lady Agatha
Wayland, is described as having a "Denghby super-chauvinist speedster.
Red tresses streaming in the open air...". Dazzle Annie Nonker is a "blond
bombshell". Two others are described as "brunette beauties". And, if the
user is lucky, Carmen can be seen scurrying across the screen in a short
red skirt. The visual and verbal rhetoric of this game communicates the
values of a sexist discourse that valorizes male pleasure and constructs
women as objects of beauty. (DeVaney 1993)
24


2.7 Girls Style of Play
The fact that WITWICSD is sexist, however, does not necessarily
.mean that giris-will not play the game. The interaction style in this game
is more acceptable to girls that most games designed for children. In order
to understand the difference between what girls and boys like, it is
important to look at the way they play. A Norwich study found that girls
play differently than boys. Stutz (1992) observed children aged 7 to 14 on
the playground. It was observed that girls and boys tended to play
separately. Girls' play seems to be. characterized by a physical closeness and
intimacy. Another characteristic observed was the universality of their
sociability and friendliness. There was never any disharmony, quarreling
or competitiveness between them. In contrast, a dominant feature, of the
boys play was its competitiveness and a combative or confrontational
tendency which flared up easily into a fight. The fact that girls' play is
characterized by socialization while, boys' play tends to be confrontational
explains why girls do not like boys computer games which frequently
employ confrontation and little social intercourse.
There, has been much research done on the human-human
interaction that women employ. Their interaction style is less dominant
and more pleasant (Maccoby & Jacklin 1974). Females' interaction styles
25


and facial feedback) and immediate than males. Males seem content with
interactions that are generally less expressive. Current computer
interfaces can be. reasonably described as impolite and non expressive.
Because the computer's interaction style does not provide the sorts of cues
that females typically use, their interactions with the computer may be
perceived as more difficult and substantially less pleasant. Males think of
HCI as more of a "reaT'interaction. Women think of HCI as more just a
"tool". Women may not regard the computer as an interactant at all and
may, therefore, feel less attached to it. (Huff, Fleming & Cooper 1992).
2.8 Summary
These findings show that females do not feel comfortable in the
math, science and computing classroom mainly because they feel that they
are in a male domain. The attitudes of the teachers and boys in the
classroom contribute to this feeling as well as the. fact that there are so few
female role models in these areas. Girls tend to get less hands on
experience, with computers and science lab equipment because boys "hog"
all the resources. Most females, being nonaggressive, allow boys to do this
to avoid confrontation. Another reason they don't fight so hard to use the
computer is that they feel intimidated about using one, particularly if the
computer is in a public arena like a computer lab. They feel intimidated
because they have little, experience with the computer. The boys tend to
26


feel more, comfortable with a computer because it is likely that they began
their computing experiences with games at a younger age. They could
have been playing them on their home computer or at the. mall in the
video arcade, but they most likely have played some computer games
before the age of 10. Because game software is designed with boys in mind,
it is unlikely that girls have had as much experience playing computer
games. Girls and boys clearly have different ideas of what is entertaining
and girls are not going to enjoy something that is designed with the sole
intent of entertaining a boy. Boys enjoy quick reflex, violent types of
games while girls enjoy more social games that have some practical
applications. Since there are practically no computer games like that on
the market, I speculate that there are significantly less 10 year-old girls
playing computer games than there are 10-year-old boys.
If boys have had some computing experience by the age. of 10, and
girls have not, that makes boys members of the computing culture and
girls non-members. At that age, there is very little interaction between the
sexes and therefore, it is unlikely that boys will welcome.the girls into the
computing culture. Few boys at that age like to help teach others what
they may know- particularly girls. Therefore, there is a perpetuation of
this idea that boys are member of the computing elite while girls are not.
Allowing girls the opportunity to play entertaining computer games may
stop this perpetuation.
27


stop this perpetuation.
2.9 Conclusion
- The. research shows that a computer game that is designed for girls
with the intent of exploring some basic science concepts should show that
science, math and science, are not just for males. I believe there are a
number of ways to do this. One is to have a strong female role-model in
the game. Famous female scientists will be. a-part of the. game, but not
appearing as "super scientists". Their lives as mothers and wives will be
mentioned. Basic experiments will involve concepts and materials that
are of interest to young girls. For example, they are interested in the
human body, the world around them the environment, art, music,
aesthetics etc.
The interactive style of the game is also important. It will not
intimidate- the user at all. The game will have an easygoing style allowing
the user to do what she wants- more, of a search and exploration game
than anything else. There will be no negative feedback to the user and
there, should be plenty of feedback. It would be ideal if there could be some
sort of feedback that resembles human expression so the game would not
seem cold and impersonal to the user. The. use of human voice would
also be helpful.
28


The. aesthetics of the game would also be important as it is with any
game. It will not have no undertones of gloom and doom. The game will
be bright and cheery and without seeming unrealistic. The use of music
and sound effects will add to this pleasant environment.
29


3. Related Research on Software Game Design
After determining what may help girls feel more, comfortable with
math, science and computers, I applied what I had learned to the design of
a game that would expose girls to selected science and math concepts. This
game would, therefore, be classified as educational software. Currently
there are different types of educational software on the.market. In this
chapter, I describe what types of models are currently used and the theories
of learning that they are based on. The. first theory discussed is based on
behaviorist psychology which led to the "Drill and Practice" software
model. The second theory discussed is that of cognitive structural theory
which began with the psychologist Jean Piaget. In this chapter I explore
his theory and relate, them to 2 software models: "Discovery Learning" and
the "Constructivist" model. I explain why I have chosen "Discovery
Learning" for my design.
Since.this game is educational, goals need to be established about
what information I want users to walk away with. This means a
curriculum needs to be addressed. I have explored what makes a person
"science literate" and established some goals for users. In addition, I have
30


examined several different chemistry texts and extracted what appears to
be the most important concepts taught at the introductory level of
chemistry.
-Finally, I explore motivation involved in gam&-playing. After all,
this is a game that should be fun to play. I explore motivation involved
in gamerplaying. The research gathered suggests that motivation comes
from challenge, fantasy and curiosity. I will explore what elements of a
game provide these qualities and in the next chapter explain how I will
include them in my design.
3.1 Learning Theories and Software Models
In order to design an effective, educational material, some
knowledge on learning theories and cognitive development was required.
Sewell (1990) raises the. issue, that differing styles of educational software
can be linked to differing views of learning. There are two prominent
views on learning in the 20th century. One. is based on behaviorist_
psychology and the other is based on structural theory which relies on
the development and modification of cognitive structures. There are
three different models that are. commonly used in software designed for
children which derive from these, two theories. Druin and Solomon
31


(1995) label one as the "Drill and Practice" model which derives from
Behaviorist psychology. The other two are. the "Discovery Learning", and
"Constuctivist" models which derive from structural theory. Following is
a discussion of these theories and their models.
3.1.1 Behaviorist Psychology
The product-oriented approach to learning is influenced by
behaviorist psychology. In this approach, learning is seen as a product of
acquiring specific skills. The behaviorists assume, that knowledge is
represented in the association between a stimulus and a response(Small
1990). One example is the way behaviorist B.F. Skinner believes children
learn grammar. Skinner argues that children learn grammar in the same
way they learn everything, through modeling and reinforcement. In his
view, they start the learning process by imitating sentences of adults and
older children. If a young child's statements are comprehensible, parents
do what the child wants, thus reinforcing the statements. If a child's
statements are inaccurate or incomprehensible, the parent does not do
what the child wants, thus not reinforcing them (Siegler 1991).
3.1.2 Drill and Practice Model
The Drill and Practice concept follows the instructional paradigm
32


which is also called programmed learning (Underwood 1990). Drill and
Practice was first developed by Patrick Suppes of Stanford University in
what came to be known as The. Stanford Project. The project started with
the. basic premise that arithmetic skills were best acquired via practice.
Using a fourth grade math curriculum/ he developed a program that
would present students with math exercises in addition/ subtraction,
multiplication division etc. If the student answered correctly, she was
rewarded with some sort of sound and presented with a new exercise. If
the student was wrong, she was represented with the. old exercise with a
'TRY AGAIN'. If the error persisted, or if a child delayed too long before
answering, the. computer displayed the. correct answer and moved on. The
advantage of using the. computer was its capacity to tailor drill programs to
the. ability levels of individual children, and to store, detailed data about
performance. The study assumed that practice was essential if children
were to master computational skills. The material presented was highly
structured in terms of difficulty. Children spent 5-15 minutes at a
computer terminal each day. The. data gathered on the project indicated
that this style of computer-aided instruction seemed to be. successful in
improving performance. More recent analyses suggest that it was the extra
practice that led to improvement not the fact that it was computer
initiated. The study also showed that the program did not have the
desired effect of helping the. initially less competent children 'catch-up',
nor did it result in improvements in all the mathematical concepts
33


introduced. Yet drill and practice does have several attractive features: a
highly structured learning environment, careful gradation of difficulty,
measurable test results. (Sewell 1990, Solomon and Druin 1995)
There were those who did not believe the Behaviorist theories,
particularly in the discussion of children learning language. Consider the
above discussion of children learning through imitation and response
from their parents. Noam Chomsky disputed this idea due to the fact that
even 3-year-olds create thousands of statements that they have never
heard anyone else say. Small (1990) uses an example of a 3 year-old boy
saying "What is that truck doing, washing the street for?" Neither adults
nor the. other children would have been likely to produce this exact
statement in the child's presence, due to the rarity of the event and the
awkward grammatical form. Therefore, the. boy certainly did not learn it
through simple imitation.
3.1.3 Cognitive Structures Theory
Observations that found fault with behaviorist theory led the way
for the popularity of structural theory. (Sewell 1990) The behaviorists
assumed all behavior could be explained in terms of Stimulus-Response
(S-R) associations. But as the S-R analysis was extended to explain
children's acquisition of language., the S-R connections became
34


cumbersome and included mediating non-physical stimuli and responses.
Psychologists were beginning to recognize the implications of other forms
of knowledge representation. (Small 1990) Structural theory considers
learning as a process of developing and modifying cognitive structures.
Within-this-model,-there is an emphasis upon the nature of the
interactions between die learner and the learning environment. There is
an assumption that the learner will gain greater insight by having to
reflect on the meaning of the information given and that more complex
forms of understanding will result as a consequence of this cognition.
(Sewell 1990)
3.1.3.1 Piaget
Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist who studied cognitive
development from 1930 to 1980 developed a theory called cognitive
structure theory which is also called constructivist theory. His theories
have had a profound influence on all subsequent work on cognitive
development (Siegler 1991)
Piagetian theory places importance on internal processing and on
how information is represented. It is the organization of the child's
knowledge that is emphasized rather than the processes for the acquisition
and application of the knowledge. (Small 1990) According to Piaget, a
35


child's cognitive structure is composed of a set of schemes which are
abstractions of his behavior or thought patterns. With experience, the
schemes change and become more abstract rules about what operations
can be performed on what things. (Siegler 1991)
Piaget acknowledges the. interaction of innate structures and the
environment in the development of cognitive structures, but his
emphasis is on experience. He concluded that learning is an active
process, based on the child's probing of the environment (Sewell 1990)
Piaget assumes that children play an active role and construct their own
reality. At any given time, children have a set of schemes about the
nature of the world and in any new situation, use these schemes to direct
their actions. As children act on their environment, they observe the
transformation that occur as consequence. For example, a young child
who throws a breakable object to the ground for the. first time will observe
that the object breaks. This transformation does not conform to the
scheme in the child's knowledge, base, so modification of the schemes
should occur. (Small 1990)
Piaget assumes that 2 biological functions affect the development of
these cognitive structures, adaption and organization. Adaption includes
assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the individual's effort
to deal with the environment by incorporating it into already existing
36


schemes for thought or action. For example, when a young infant first
attempts to grasp a rattle, the infant may rely on her scheme for blanket
grasping. Therefore, the first several attempts at the rattle may be
unsuccessful, but eventually through trial and error, the infant will adjust
the grasping scheme, to the characteristics of the. rattle. Accommodation is
this process of modification of an existing scheme to the characteristics of a
particular object or event. As the. child's experience broadens,
accommodation and assimilation constantly interact in this manner to
promote the development of cognitive structures (Siegler 1991). The
function of organization is to organize these schemes into increasingly
complex relations with each other. The basis for this process, Piaget
postulated, is that organisms seek to maintain internal stability
(equilibrium) when faced with changing circumstances. Changes in the
outside world cause disturbances in internal systems, including cognitive
systems. In order to establish equilibrium, these internal systems undergo
modification (accommodation) to achieve equilibrium. This process is
called equilibration (Sewell 1990). Sewell summarizes the main points of
the theory as follows:
1. There are continuous and progressive changes in mental
structures.
2. These, structures appear in fixed order.
3. Cognitive development is influenced by experience.
4. Cognition originates via a process of internalizing actions.
5. Intelligence increases as thinking is freed from a basis in action
and direct perception.
6. Interactions with the world result in the development of mental
models, schemata. (Sewell p71)
37


3.1.4 Discovery Learning Model
The Discovery Learning model was first developed for Bob Davis'
Plato Madison Project. This project, like the. Stanford Project, was used to
teach elementary mathematics. Discovery Learning theory meant that the
program would provide paradigm situations that were based on what
children already know. It provided challenges in which children were
called upon to use their intuition and knowledge. Examples include
presenting the children with the task of dividing up a candy bar or a jar of
beans (Figure 3.1 on next page). Figure 3. 2 shows the locomotive game.
The user clicks a button that spins the 3 number dials. When the spinner
stops, the user has three, numbers. The user then uses these 3 numbers to
create their next move. The user takes the three numbers and chooses the
operators to use to make their move most successful. Most successful
moves land the player on a "chute" which jump the user ahead a
significant amount of spaces. Graphics were an essential part of the
design, not just a mere perk for giving the correct response. A strength of
this type of design is the. fact that it is fun for children to use. It is not
intended to replace the teacher, but to promote teacher/student iteration.
The downside of the project were that test results are not conclusive, and
that software, must conform with hardware. (Drain and Solomon 1995)
38


Plato Madison Project
EXAMPLE INTERACTION
jWe want to share these jumping beans)
/ Please pass the beans out to us, Tom J

beans
jump
beans
jump
Figure 3.1
Plato Madison Project
EXAMPLE INTERACTION
LOCOMOTIVE'S Turn: Your numbers: 12 6 Your move: (2+6) *1=8 32 43Gl ^

Dodge 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7" £3
8 9 V 10 11 12 13 14 ^ 15
16 17 18 19 20 Dry Gulch I
Figure 3. 2 (Druin and Solomon 1995)
39


3.1.5 Constructivist Model
The third type of software model discussed by Druin and Solomon
is one they called the Constructivist model. This falls under the category
of conjectural educational paradigm. (Underwoodl990). In this paradigm,
the user uses the computer to build and evaluate models. This, too, is
based upon Piaget's Constructivist theory. Seymour Papert, who worked
with Piaget, views learning as a constructive process in which optimum
understanding comes when children build their own mental models.
Papert advocates an active, role for the child (the child in control of the
computer)(Sewell 1990). His idea was to make the. computer an
intellectual tool or an 'object to think with.' It was this thinking that led
Papert to develop Logo, the first programming language for children.
Logo doesn't give children an interactive, graphics environment that will
teach math and science, it gives them tools for charting their own paths
for exploring math, science, and the. creative, arts. When the. user begins at
Logo, she.is presented with a turtle on a screen. The.user can create shapes
by giving the. turtle directions that tell it how to move. Getting the turtle
to make a circle, might be. coded this way:
To CIRCLEBIT
Forward 1
Right 1
End
40


To CIRCLE
Repeat 360 CIRCLEBIT
End
The strength of this model is its ability to increase social skills because it
allows children to work cooperatively in groups/ and it promotes
teacher/student interaction. The weakness is that it is hard to quantify
improvements. (Drain and Solomon 1995)
3.1.6 Choosing Discovery Learning
I have chosen Discovery Learning as the model on which my game
is based because it follows cognitive structure theory and it will be the
most motivating and user-friendly.
The reason I chose to use. a model based on cognitive structures
follows from my analysis of girls in the classroom. As the research
showed/ many science, lessons and texts are built on concepts that are. more
familiar to boys. I infer that this means many lessons build on cognitive
structures that the female, has not developed. For example, if a science
lesson about velocity begins with a discussion about cars, it is quite likely
that boys, who tend to play with cars more than girls, will have a more
developed cognitive, structure of cars than girls would. This may put the
girls at a disadvantage, throughout the discussion because they may not
41


have the developed schema required to map conclusions to. It is my
attempt, with this game, to give the girls some experience that will modify
the existing schemata. If their schemata is more developed from a science
perspective, they may feel more, comfortable in science, class and inferences
made in science class will make more sense.
Discovery Learning falls into the. revelatory paradigm in which the
learner makes discoveries using simulations (Underwood 1990). The
reason for using simulations are that they: are motivating, allow
exploration of otherwise inaccessible situations, encourage active
involvement and discovery learning, encourage social interaction and
facilitate the use of individual strategies. I have chosen this style because I
think it is the most stimulating for the user and the most "user friendly".
Simulations are more, stimulating than a Drill and Practice type of style.
(Sewell 1990). In the Drill and Practice, model, the user has very little
control over her environment. Jocelyn Weislhart (1989) found in an
extensive, classroom investigation that factual learning increased
significantly when children had control over the game. One. main
objective of my game, is to allow the users to understand how science is a
part of our everyday life. That would be. most effective if the user can be
allowed to explore a "real world" environment on her computer.
I have decided not to use a constructivist approach because I believe
42


it makes the user responsible for teaching herself. Considering the
attitude discussed in the previous chapter of girl's feeling toward science
and math at the target age, this approach would probably be unappealing
to them. They need to be provided with some motivation that is not
found with constructivist tools. -The femaleuser of such a tool may feel
like she. is playing with a toy that was created for males. Therefore, her
success at using the tools may suffer. It is my belief that after being
provided with some motivation, the girls will be more willing to explore
those "teach yourself" approaches. In a discovery learning, simulation
type game, I am able to construct a world that girls feel at home in. An
environment that they want to explore.
The purpose of revelatory software is to develop intuition about
situations and concepts and to develop the use of problem solving abilities
via a discovery and exploratory approach. Simulations are the most
common form of revelatory software. Active learning through
exploration and hypothesis testing, together with the setting of challenges,
provides a motivating learning environment. The. provision of such an
environment carries with it the potential to encourage social interactions
to deal with the. challenges presented. As discussed earlier, social
interaction among our target audience is very important. In addition,
individual strategies can be utilized since there is not necessarily a single
"correct" solution. This game will enable the user to utilize a few
43


strategies on a number of occasions, providing the opportunity to
experience, the consequences of a number of different decisions.
There are. some important things to consider when using
simulations in the implementation of this game. Simulations tend to
allow the user to explore otherwise inaccessible situations. In our case, the
user will be able to handle hazardous chemicals that she would not be
allowed to handle in the "real" world. If the aim of the simulation is to
provide the user information that will be utilized later, it is important that
the. simulation be as realistic as possible. (Sewell 1990) When the user of
the computer game is experimenting with a hazardous chemical, it is
important that the. inherent danger of the situation be communicated.
There is the possibility that the user could come across some of these
chemicals in a "real" lab one day and we wouldn't want her to be overly
confident in handling these, chemicals. Another inaccessible situation
that the. user will be getting in this game is the female role-model of a
scientist. As discussed in the. previous chapter there are. too few females
teaching science, math and computer courses. There will be. a strong
female scientist presence, in this game.
Of course, simulations do have some disadvantages. They are not
always a good replacement for actual hands-on experience. Sewell uses
44


the example of dealing with weights and volumes. While this game will
have tools for measures and weight, it is not intended to replace activity in
the lab. This game's primary objective is to make the users more
comfortable with science matters including weights and measures. After
playing this game, it is my hope: that the users will be familiar with
equipment in the lab and be less intimidated by it. Another problem with
using simulation is that if one is too complex it can confuse the child and
without corrective guidance, the child may lose interest and motivation.
Also, although a simulation may appear to be. engaging the child in active
exploration, there is no guarantee that actual learning is taking place.
(Sewell 1990)
3.2 Cognitive Development
An important goal of this game is to expose girls to selected
scientific concepts that they will be able to use. in their future, science,
classes, in order to be sure, that the material presented is easily
understood, it was important to know what stage of cognitive,
development my target audience is in. Therefore, the. subject of cognitive
development needs to be addressed again.
I return to Piagetian theory because his work is the most extensive
45


in the study of cognitive stages of children. Piaget classified 4 main stages
of cognitive development in a child's life:
sensorimotor- between the ages of 0-2
preoperational -between the ages of 2- 6 or 7
concrete operational- between 6 and llor 12
formal operational period- from early adolescents to the end
of life (Siegler 1991)
Recent research does not always support Piaget's assumption that there, are
stagerlike changes in cognition. Even Piaget (1972), influenced by
contemporary research, asserted that, unlike the earlier 3 stages, the
occurrence of formal thinking in a given situation will depend upon past
experiences and training of individuals and their familiarity with the
content of the task. Yet, his theories on the formal operations period still
pertain to much of the work in cognitive development today. (Small
1990)
3.2.1 Formal Operations Period
Paiget characterized adolescence as the time when formal
operational reasoning is developed. He classified this reasoning as
hypothetico-deductive, which means that the individual can generate
alternative possibilities (hypotheses), deduce conclusions from hypotheses
and generate tests for their validations. This reasoning brings the ability to
46


think in terms of all possible outcomes, and to relate, actual outcomes to
these logically possible outcomes, and to plan ahead. Children in this
stage can perform systematic experiments, a skill made possible by
sophisticated understanding of classes and relations. (Smail 1990) In sum,"
they think much like scientists." (Siegler p56). Hypothetico-deductive
reasoning includes the use of both inductive and deductive reasoning.
Deductive reasoning is the process of deriving inferences that make
explicit what's implicit in the information available to us. For example, if
we know that Amy is taller than Sue and Sue is taller than Donna, then it
must follow that Any is taller than Donna: Inductive reasoning is the use
of facts to determine the probability that a conclusion is appropriate. If I
know nothing about the relative heights of Donna Sue. and Amy, but I
know that Amy is eight and Sue is 6, I use this knowledge and my
knowledge of human growth to infer that Amy is taller than Sue (Small
1990).
Since the ability to reason is developed in the formal operations
stage, it is important that some exercises in reasoning be included in the
game. While reasoning ability may not be the only criteria for performing
problem solving tasks correctly, it seems to be an important part. Since
my target audience is just transitioning to the formal operations stage, it is
likely that their reasoning skills could use some practice. Another
important part of reasoning is called metacognition.
47


3.2.2 Metacognition
Generally speaking, metacognition means thinking about thinking,
referring to an awareness of one's own cognitive.processes. There, are.2
closely related types of metacognition; knowing about one's own
cognition, and monitoring and regulating cognition. The first type,
sometimes called explicit metacognitive knowledge, is knowledge about
memory in particular. This includes information about tasks, is it easier
to remember the main point of a passage, or to remember the passage
verbatim; about strategies, is it better to rehearse a phone number, or just
try hard to remember it; and about people, are younger children better or
worse that older ones at remembering. Much of this information seems
to be acquired between ages 5 and 10. (Siegler 1991).
The second type of metacognition, also called intrinsic
metacognitive knowledge, refers to activities students engage in while
performing tasks. Part of intellectual development is the acquisition of
monitoring or control abilities used specifically for control of learning and
problem solving. (Venesky 1991) The child who computes the area of a
square and accepts a negative, result demonstrates a lack of metacognitive
ability. As discussed in the introduction it is this type of intellectual
development that will be. needed for technological jobs of the future.
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Therefore, it is important for children to develop their intrinsic
metacognitive skills. Metacognition involves skill, but it also involves
attitudes and beliefs. The. learner has to believe that she can acquire a
certain body of material or solve, a particular set of questions. The learner
-must-also believe, that further effort has a positive value. (Sewell 1990) It
is my belief that this game may be able to give girls a better attitude toward
science. It will give girls the belief that they can acquire skills in science
and mathematics and therefore provide motivation for further effort.
Vygotsky (1962) has proposed that higher-order cognitive skills,
which include metacognition, are acquired through an extemal-to-
intemal process. First, a skill is learned on a social level, generally
through adult guidance or collaboration with more advanced peers. Then,
through practice, it becomes internalized.
3.3 Motivation
There is an assumption that motivation and learning are. linked
(Sewell 1990). Motivation is considered important in most cognitive
theories of learning (Venesky 1962). Motivation provides both focus and
intensity to behavior; it is the desire to reach a goal that transcends
physical needs. For many learners, awareness of a task that requires
49


solving is adequate motivation for working toward a solution. In more
cognitive terms, an uncompleted task, a goal not yet reached, all evoke
conflicting thoughts in the learner and drive her to resolve the conflict.
An important distinction to make is that which exists between
extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is believed to be
more beneficial than extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation comes
from reinforcement that is unrelated to the task whereas intrinsic
motivation refers to engagement in the activity for its own sake- the
reinforcement comes from carrying out the activity. (Sewell 1990) Most
theorists see. intrinsic motivation as being essentially more, productive in
terms of future, learning and commitment to a task (Sewell 1990)
However, many of our educational activities do make use. of extrinsic
reinforcement when stars, merit badges, points etc. are awarded for good
performance. The assumption is that children will work harder to secure
such external rewards, and that their receipt will result in additional
motivation to maintain the. behavior in the future. Such reinforcements
are often incorporated into educational software in the use of smiling
faces, tunes and graphic displays. A problem with extrinsic motivation is
that when these stimuli are taken away from the environment, the
student has even less motivation that she began with. (Sewell 1990)
Malone, recorded several observations he made on intrinsic
50


motivation with children playing computer games. He presented the
children with several different games. With each game, he had several
different versions, each with elements missing that he used to determine
what elements made the. game most enticing to the. children. He labeled 3
major categories that-make a game, environment intrinsically motivating.
They are challenge, fantasy, and curiosity.
3.3.1 Challenge
Malone suggests that challenge is a part of a game when the game
provides goals whose attainment is uncertain. In a survey he. performed
among children, the. single feature of the computer games that correlated
most strongly with preference was whether or not the game had a goal.
He.suggests a good goal is personally meaningful to the player. He refers
to a study done by Morozova (1955) in which children read several
variants of a text passage, about latitude and longitude. The version in
which the child hero was faced with the.practical problem of finding his
location was much more interesting to the. children than the. other
versions. This correlates to the research in the previous chapter which
found that girls are reluctant to learn about subjects they don't feel are
useful. Using "real world" problems in my game demonstrates the
usefulness of my subject matter and provides a personally meaningful
goal.
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Another type of goal is the emergent goal. That is a goal that arises
out of the interaction between a person and the environment. One
example of this environment is found in LOGO programming which was
discussed earlier-in this chapter. Environments like this need to be
structured so that users can easily generate goals of appropriate difficulty.
If beginners do not have some help evaluating the difficulty of some of
the projects they may pick for LOGO, they may pick tasks that are
discouragingly difficult. This requires some type of feedback from the.
teacher regarding appropriateness of the project. Malone encourages
performance feedback, as well, to tell the user whether they are on the
right track in achieving their goal.
In additions to goals, the. uncertainty of a game's outcome, provides
challenge. An environment is not challenging is the person is either
certain to reach the goal or certain not to reach the. goal. Malone discusses
several ways to provide this uncertainty. One way is to provide variable
difficulty levels. Another is to have multiple level goals. This provides a
variable difficulty level within a fixed problem environment. The use. of
hidden information also gives a game uncertainty by hiding information
from the player and selectively revealing it. This also provokes curiosity.
Randomness too, introduces uncertainty to the game. (Malone 1981)
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3.3.2 Fantasy
Malone describes the fantasy environment as one that evokes
mental images of things not present to the senses. These mental images
can be physical objects (like the shooting of asteroids in Star Wars) or
social situations ( e.g. being the ruler of a kingdom) and they may or may
not be likely to occur in the learner's environment.
Malone distinguishes between extrinsic fantasies and intrinsic
fantasies. Extrinsic fantasies are those where the fantasy depends on the
use of the skill but not vice versa. For example, a computer game of
Hangman can be used with spelling problems as well as arithmetic
problems. It is the intrinsic fantasies, however, that are more interesting
and more instructional. ( Malone 1981) In this case, the fantasy depends
on the skill and the. skill depends on the fantasy. This means problems are
presented in terms of elements of the fantasy world. Players, then receive,
constructive feedback. One example Malone uses is that of a math game
that includes the. search for a hidden animal on a cartesian grid. The
reason intrinsic fantasy is more advantageous lies in the fact that it can
improve, memory of the material by provoking vivid images related to die
material being learned. It also allows the. user to apply old knowledge, in
understanding new things. (Malone 1981)
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3.3.3 Curiosity
The. two types of curiosity that Malone describes are sensory and
cognitive curiosity. Sensory curiosity involves the attention getting
devices of changes in light, sound or other sensory stimuli. Ways in
which this stimuli can be used are as decoration, to enhance fantasy (
background music of a game), as a reward, and as a representational
system that may be more effective than words or numbers ( graphic
representation of fractions in a computer game.as as opposed to the
numbers).
The other type of curiosity, cognitive curiosity, is evoked by the
prospect of modifying higher level cognitive structures. This can be
thought of as a desire to bring better "form" to one's current knowledge
structures. Malone suggests that the way to engage, the. learners' curiosity
is to present just enough information to make their existing knowledge
seem incomplete, inconsistent or unparsimonious. The learners are then
motivated to learn more, to better form their cognitive, structures. Berlyne
(1960) called the type, of curiosity that resulted from cognitive events
epistemic curiosity. She points out the relationship between this type, of
motivation's relationship with problem-solving efficiency is that of an
inverted u-shape. Efficiency increases as degree of motivation increases,
54


but only to a certain level, defined separately for each learner. Then as
degree of motivation in the learner increases beyond this maximum,
problem efficiency decreases. The learner is over aroused and can no
longer control her behavior effectively. (Hudgins 1977).
3.4 Curriculum
The idea behind this game is not to teach an entire semester's worth
of science to its audience. My objective is very broad and contains 4 basic
goals. The first goal is that the user feel more comfortable using a
computer. The second is to engage the child in some scientific activities
that she may find herself engaged in at school. Research already
presented has shown that the. activities/lessons used at school may be
male biased. Having previous activity with a female slant may help her
feel more at home with the. concepts presented. Goal three is to allow the
user to see. that science, applies to everyone's world, not just to the world of
a scientist. It is important for her to understand why one should be
science, literate. The fourth goal is for the user to understand that a female
scientist is not a freak. The user should learn that women can have
normal lives and be scientists at the same time. In addition, I believe that
the user should learn about the types of scientists/engineers in die real
world and how their salaries compare with those, of other professions.
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The fact that this game is designed specifically for girls should take
care of the first goal of making the users feel more comfortable using a
computer. As discussed in the previous chapter, almost all software out
there is designed with boys in mind. I explained that girls and boys have
different games that they like to play and different styles of play. Many
children have their first computer experience with some type of computer
game. It is, therefore, likely that a girl's first experience on a computer is
with male oriented software. If her experience were more geared toward a
female environment, she may feel more, comfortable on the computer.
The second goal is to engage the user in scientific activity so that she
may be familiar with some, concepts she. will come in contact with at
school. Attribution theory holds that how people attribute their own
successes and failures among ability, luck and effort, affects their feelings
about themselves and therefore their predictions of success on future
tasks. These then control the amount of effort expended on a task. The
basic concept is this: the more learners attribute success to their own efforts
and the more positive, they feel about their own abilities, the more effort
they are willing to exert in learning. (Sewell 1990) It is my hope, that
having some familiarity and success with experiments in the game will
increase, the child's prediction of success for future science activities.
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In accomplishing the third goal of understanding why it is
important to be science literate, it is important to first define what science
literacy is. Simpson and Anderson (1981) define, the science literate person
as having the following behavior:
-Has knowledge of the major concepts, principles, laws and
theories of science and applies these in appropriate ways..
-Uses the processes of science in solving problems, making decisions
and other suitable ways..
-Understands the nature of science and the scientific enterprise..
-Understands the partnership of science and technology and its
interaction with society..
-Has developed science related skills that enable him or her to
function effectively in careers, leisure activities, and other
roles.
-Possesses attitudes and values that are in harmony with those of
science and a free society.. (Simpson and Anderson 1981)
I do not expect my game will instill all of these behaviors in the
user. However, it provides an outline for I am attempting to do.
Focusing on the first item, will define what major concepts,
principles, laws and theories of chemistry that I will apply to the. game.
Fensham(1993) discusses several different approaches to the introduction
of chemistry. All contain the topics of solutions, states of matter,
substances and mixtures, chemical reactions, elements, and atomic
structure. My intention is provide the. user with experiments that help
57


demonstrate each of these ideas.
Many of the experiments I use contain items that one can find in
the home, or that one may come across in her activities throughout the
day. This may allow the user to understand that science is present in our
everyday lives. If the. user is aware, of this presence,the user may be. able to
develop the an understanding of "the partnership of science, and
technology and its interaction with society."
One. of the first experiments I use begin with two of our most
common consumer products, table sugar and table salt. The experiment
involves asking the child to get a light bulb to glow. The light bulb will be
attached to a jar lid with wires coming out of it. The. idea would be to fill
the jar with an electrolyte, solution and place the jar lid on top. This will
allow the light bulb to light. The user is given different hints while,
exploring the house, that lead her to try a salt solution and a sugar
solution. The light bulb will only work with the salt-water solution.
Principles on display here are ionic bonds, solutions, and mixtures vs.
compounds. This experiment can lead to a discussion of ions, anions and
cations and ionic bonds. These terms are used in hints that are given to
the user.
The fourth goal, allow the. child to understand that the female
58


scientist is not a "super scientist" nor is she a freak, is accomplished by
having the game, revolve around a female, scientist that has hobbies,
leisure, time, and a decent salary. This scenario may help with the issue
that girls have so few female role, models in the technological fields. I was
searching for ideas that would make these adolescent girls take interest not
just scholastically, but socially. As discussed in the previous chapter, girls
put great importance on social issues. Because they are on their way to
becoming adults they are naturally curious about adult things. Most of us
can remember someone from their childhood who always wanted to hang
around with the older children of the same sex. From personal
experience, I have found that this interest does not seem to extend older,
married women, but to women who are just entering adulthood. I
decided if my role model was going to be interesting to these girls, then
she was going to have to be relatively young. She would obviously be a
scientist, but she would not be a "super scientist". As discussed in the
previous chapter, girls tend to believe that all female scientists are genius'
who devotes all their time to their work. The role model used in this
game, is an ordinary woman who wears makeup, has friends, hobbies and
who doesn't work all day and all night. How do I get across these ideas to
the user? I use the role model's house, I call her Katie, as the exploratory
environment, or at least part of it The idea is that the user walks through
Katies house and explores all Katie's things. I'm relying on intrinsic
curiosity to motivate the user into exploration. I also provide motivation
59


by giving the user little "surprises". While exploring, the user comes
across something that animates, or a picture of some sort that provides
some information, or some personal things in Katie's life. One important
feature.is be portraits of female scientists. Selecting any of them produces
a synopsis of their work and their personal life. It is important to include
their personal life so that the user understands that these women did have
lives outside of work. This allows the user to learn about Katie and see
that she is an ordinary woman, who happens to be a scientist, a very smart
one, but not an extremely hard working one. They will find the house to
be a nice and interesting one with a laboratory in the basement.
3.5 Summary
The-task of designing an educational computer game is one in
which die designer should have, some knowledge, of learning theories and
software models, cognitive development, and motivation. My research of
learning theories has led me to believe that cognitive structure learning
theory is the most effective and that the Discovery Learning Model or
simulation model would be the most effective, for my objectives. This of
model allows the user to explore a "real world" environment and
discover how science effects our "real world". This type of model is also
the most user-friendly. This is important because, girls tend to be
60


intimidated by computers and the concepts of science.
The. belief of cognitive learning structures is that our knowledge
base contains structures called schema. These structures are based on past
experiences. Any experience that one has goes through a process Piaget
called assimilation, accommodation and organization. Organization is
the way these schema are organized. When an experience begins, an
existing schema that closely matches this experience is called upon. If the
experience, contains any differences form the schema, the schema
undergoes modification and may or may not cause reorganization of
schema. I will illustrate with an example of what I hope will happen with
this game. I have stated that it is likely that many girls have few female
role models in the science/ technological world. For this reason, I
speculate that their knowledge base of scientists are that of males, or
overworked females who have no life. When playing this game
involving a scientist, they will call upon these structures. After clicking
on the. portraits of several different female scientists and learning: 1) that
they exist, and 2) that they had lives and families outside of work, they
will then modify their existing schema to incorporate women and to place,
less emphasis on the "super scientist" idea.
The. research on cognitive development shows that 10-13 year olds
are just entering the formal operations period as described by Piaget. It is
61


in this period that children begin using both inductive and deductive
reasoning and are able to think like scientists. Therefore, it is important to
allow them to use their reasoning abilities. Because they are in the formal
operations stage, their cognition will be mature and therefore, it is
expected they have the same cognitive, ability as adults.
It is very important that this game be "fun" to play, otherwise, it
will not be a very effective learning tool because no one would use it. In
order for a game to be motivating, it needs to provide challenge. The best
way to do this is to provide a goal that the user is uncertain she. can attain.
The game that has a fantasy theme to it is also motivating. This puts the
user in a situation she would not be likely to find herself in in reality.
Allowing the fantasy and the skills needed to be dependent on one
another is the most effective way to provide a learning experience for the
user. The third element that makes a game motivating is the element of
curiosity. Intrinsic curiosity is that which requires modification of the
existing schema; Introducing this type of curiosity to a game may entice,
the user to actually seek out more information to develop her structure,
more fully once she realizes how underdeveloped her current structure is.
Adding too much of this element, however, can have an adverse affect. If
what is present in the. game is too far removed from any schema the user
has, the riser will lose interest and motivations quickly.
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The curriculum of the game will be that the user understand some
basic concepts of chemistry. I have determined these topics are solution,
state of matter, substances and mixtures, chemical reactions, elements, and
atomic structure. The game will include, experiments that will include
demonstrate, each of these. Many experiments will include substances
that can be. found in everyday life so that the user can develop a sense of
how science affects everyone's world. These may help the user toward the
path of science literacy.
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4. System Design
This chapter describes the design and implementation of the
prototype of Katie Quantum's Chemistry Quest. It describes the general
specifications for Katie Quantum's Chemistry Quest as well as some
implementation and design decisions.
4.1 General Specifications
Katie. Quantum's Chemistry Quest (KQCQ) provides a game
environment for girls that allows them to perform experiments, explore
the life, of a female scientist and to construct a lab book that contains the
results of their experiments. The game will contain several scenarios.
Each scenario will begin with a visit to the house, of Katie Quantum,
scientist The specific scenario that is implemented for demonstration of
the game, deals with the subjects of ions, compounds, solutions and
chemical reactions. However, die complete game would have several
scenarios that follow the general scenario outlined below. The. order in
which the scenarios are. presented would be predetermined. Each scenario
64


should rely upon some information the user gathered in previous
scenarios.
4.2. Interfaces
The following defines the system interfaces.
4.2.1 Hardware. Interfaces
The hardware required to operate the game is a Macintosh
computer with a mouse and monitor interface.
4.2.2 Software Interfaces
The game has been prototyped using Director 4.0. Many graphics
were created in Adobe Photoshop 3.0 and imported to Director.
4.2.3 Human Interfaces
The input interface is the mouse, of the workstation. The game
provides a graphical user display that is easily understood and
manipulated by the user. Sound is an output of the system that is used to
provide feedback to the user.
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4.3 Presumed Student Knowledge
I presume that the student has basic math skills including the use of
addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The use of fractions
and decimals is also presumed student knowledge. Previous science
activity is not required.
4.4 User Interface
The following describes the interface presented to the user.
4.4.1 Aesthetics
As discussed in Chapter One, studies have shown that girls place
importance in the aesthetics of a game. This game will contain much
color and visual stimuli. The "stage" of the game will be Katie's house.
The use of color and light is important. The "scenery" will be realistic, yet
extremely colorful. Much like a photograph that has had color added to it
to give it more, of a "fantasy" type of feel. The look that I am trying to
capture, requires working closely with a graphic artist to produce this look.
The way transition are used is important to the aesthetics of the
game. When transitioning from one screen to the other it is important
that the transition be smooth and pleasing to watch. 1 chose to use many
66


dissolves for this reason. A dissolve from one screen to another is a very
smooth transition that I believe is the least intrusive to the user.
4.4.1.1 Color
The. game is designed to be used with a color monitor. While, the
game would be functional on a gray scale monitor, the user would be. at a
disadvantage since the aesthetics of the game are an important issue in
this project.
4.4.1.2 Sound Effects
The use of sound as discussed in the. previous 2 chapters is an
important element in a game. The. use of pleasant music is particularly
important in a game for girls. The sound effects used will not be intrusive
and there will be.no "negative" type of sound effects. For instance, if a
user tries the wrong substance to create a solution, the user will not
receive a nasty "buzz". The user will, however, receive, some, sort of
"positive" sound effect when she performs the. correct operation. It is
expected that the user will grow to learn that a correct answer elicits a
positive response, and know that when there is no response, the. user
must try an alternative. As discussed previously, negative feedback tends
to intimidate girls in their use of computers. I have decided to avoid the
67


use. of negative feedback in this game.
4.4.2 Start-up Screens
- When starting the game, the user will be presented with a screen
that has 2 buttons as options. One. is First Time Player and the second is
Official Lab Trainee. When the user selects First Time Player, she is asked
to type her name onto a screen. The game will keep track where she is
when she is done playing for the session. After typing in her name, she
clicks the. OK key. There, will be an "opening" sequence that tells a story.
The. story will be audio of a female human voice who introduces herself as
Katie and welcomes the user. She explains the scenario of the game while
visual effects compliment her voice, over. She will explain to the user that
she will be. provided with an initial assignment that is tacked on the door
and the user is then responsible for fulfilling that assignment She will
explain that the way to do this is by exploring the house which will be
filled with dues regarding the. assignment. The mouse is what the user
will use to navigate through the. house, via point and click. The opening
will explain how to use the mouse. The opening will also explain what
the accompanying materials are to be used for and how to use the. hint
button. The end of the opening will wish the. player good luck and place
the player at the. driveway in front of Katies house.
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The non-first-time-user will be placed at the beginning of the
scenario where she left off. All operations she may have performed
previously in this scenario will be accounted for. For example, if she
clicked on an object that caused her cursor to become that object, when she
begins the. game, her cursor will be that object.
4.5 User Assistance
Following are the types of assistance that are. provided to the user.
The use. of all of them is optional. The user may choose, to use all the
elements provided, or choose to use only some. The idea is to place die
control of how the knowledge flows at the hands of the user.
4.5.1 Provided materials
4.5.1.1 Lab book
Provided with the.game will be.a user lab book. This lab book will
be. very important to the player. She is expected to enter information in it
after each experiment and to update it with information throughout her
search. When she. has completed the game, she will have this lab book to
use for future, reference, with school. The completion of this book should
provide, her with some, concrete evidence that she can perform science
experiments.
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Entries the user makes throughout the game will be used later in
more advanced levels of the game. For example, in the first scenario, the
user will be given a list of compounds. There will be. an entry under
Compound in the lab book where the user should list some examples of
compounds. Later in the game, the user will be shown a list of three items
and asked which is a compound. The user will need to answer correctly to
gain access to an area she needs to go.
Writing in the lab book may become somewhat tedious for the user,
but it is important for the user to understand that these are the steps
required in science experimentation. She will be reminded to record items
in her book as they come up.
For example, if the user is given a clue about Nad, the user can
look through an index or a table, in die. lab book to find what that is. The.
user will be able, to determine that it is sodium chloride. There will also be
a description of sodium chloride in the. book which will describe it as a
compound and an electrolyte. In the lab book, the user will have a page
labeled Sodium Chloride (Figure 4.1 on next page). The user is expected
to enter the information learned about NaCl in the. lab book. The lab book
will help with what information is important by providing labels with
blanks next to them.
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COMPOUNDS
SODIUM CHLORIDE (NaCl)
Also known as_________
Properties: Electrolyte
Figure 4. 1


4.5.1.2 Hint Button
There will be hint buttons provided at strategic locations. These
buttons will help direct the user to the next due or action. Use of the hint
button willnot affect the outcome of the game in any way. For example, if
the user comes across a note on the. door, there will be the word "hint" in
different colored ink to direct the user to the next clue of importance. This
hint button will be present in many scenarios of the first experiment.
After that, as the. user gets more skilled at the game, there are. fewer hints
which are more vague.
4.5.1.3 "Help" Words
The game will have a number of occasions where the. user can dick
on a word in a note or on a chart. These words will stand out by being a
different colored ink, or in bold, or underlined. In the example of NaCl,
when the user clicks on that word, she. will be given a pop-up that says
"NaCl: Sodium Chloride". This is information the user can look up in
the lab book, which will provide, more information, or the user can
continue on her search.
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4.6 The Game
4.6.1 The Stage
The "stage" of the game is the house of scientist Katie Quantum.
There are several scenarios that the user goes through in this game. The
order-of- these scenarios is predetermined. Each scenario will use elements
of the previous scenarios. Each scenario will consist of the user entering
Katies house, with a task. That task will require the user to search and
explore the house. Upon this exploration, the user will be expected to
perform an experiment that uses things that the user finds in the house.
After successfully completing that task, the user will go down to the Lab
where there will be a video tape that provides a scientific explanation
regarding the previous experiment and directions on how to proceed with
the lab experiment which will require the. use of lab tools and potentially
hazardous chemicals.
4.6.2 Motivation
Challenge, fantasy and curiosity are. the keys to providing
motivation. Discussion of these categories was provided in the previous
chapter. The most important way to provide challenge is to provide goals
in a game. The ultimate goal is for the.user to become an Official Lab
Assistant XX. The. game, will consist of a variety of scenarios. Each
scenario will begin outside Katie's house. It will end when the user
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performs the required experiments. The XX stands for the number of
scenarios in the game. After the completion of each scenario, the user will
be advanced to the next stage of Official Lab Assistant status. For example,
after the first scenario is successfully completed, the. user will become an
Official Lab Assistant I. ..After the third scenario, the user will become
Official Lab Assistant m and so on. When the user achieves top status,
the game will present a Official Lab Assistant Certificate that the user can
save or print. Therefore, the user proceeds through the game with a
series of small attainable goals which are provided by the game. For
example, in the first scenario, the user will find a note that says "Find the
Laboratory". The user will be uncertain about how to find the laboratory,
but will understand that this is her goal. This uncertainty about how to
achieve the goal will also provide challenge and provoke curiosity. The
HINT "button" that will appear with the clue "Find the Laboratory" will
only clue, the user in on the fact that she look for a doorway and to check
the refrigerator. The user will still be uncertain about how to achieve her
goal. But, she. now has a smaller more attainable goal of finding the
refrigerator and a doorway. This "hint" button is devised to keep the
users motivation level high. If she reaches a point where, she. feels she is
unable to reach a goal, the "hint" button should give her the. feeling that
attaining her goal is possible.
Fantasy also provides motivation. The. entire game is a fantasy. It
74


allows the user to explore someone's house without any inhibitions. The
user has been invited in by the. owner. It is rare that children are given the
opportunity to explore someone else's home all alone. In addition, this
game allows the user to explore, a laboratory alone. This is a particularly
unlikely situation that a student may find herself in. This game
implements intrinsic fantasy. The experiments depend on the game
fantasy and the fantasy depends on the experiments.
The third factor in motivation as discussed in the previous chapter
is curiosity. Sensory curiosity will be. provoked by the music and sound
effects involved in the game. There will be various objects in the house
that the user can click on to obtain some sort of stimuli, either animation,
sound or visual display. Cognitive curiosity is incited by providing users
with the ability to perform experiments that they were never able to do
before. Another factor that provokes this type of curiosity is the
"presence" of the female scientist. The research described in Chapter One
suggests that few girls have a true representation of female scientists. It is
likely that as they learn about Katie through exploration of her house, they
will realize, that their current knowledge structure about female scientists
is incomplete. This should engage the user's curiosity.
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4.6.3 Starting the Game
After the start-up screens explain to the user how to play the game,
the user will be placed in front of Katie's house at the foot of the driveway.
When theuser clicks anywhere on the screen, the current picture will
dissolve, into a screen where the user is further up the driveway, closer to
the house. Again, the. user can click on the screen and another dissolve
places her on the front porch facing the front door. The user will see that
there is a note on the front door, but will be unable to read the note until
she clicks on the note and is given a close-up of the note. When the user
clicks on this wide shot of the door screen, she is brought closer to the
door. At this point, the user has several options. If the user clicks on the
doorbell, the doorbell will ring. If the user clicks on the note, she will get a
close-up view of the note. If the user clicks on the door, the door will
open. It is important that the user read the note before going through the
door, therefore, if the user clicks on the door before clicking on the note,
the door will open and dose. Once the. user clicks on the note she gets a
close-up of the note that is readable. It will give a due about what the user
is to do in this scenario. One example, is "Find the Laboratory". When the
user clicks on this closeup note screen, she will be taken back to the doser
up shot of the door. Now, when she clicks on the door, it will open.
When theuser clicks on the doorway, she will be taken into the foyer of
the house.
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4.6.4 Inside the House
Once inside the house, die user will be able to explore. From the
foyer, the. user can go upstairs where she'll find Katie's bedroom,
bathroom and a study or downstairs where she'll find the living room,
dining room, kitchen and patio. There will also be a doorway that leads to
the laboratory which is in the basement. In each scenario, the house will
look a little different. Katie will have left different items lying around. In
the first scenario, there will be item laying around that will be used in the
first experiment. There may also be a jacket, or old photo album that Katie .
may have left out before leaving the house.
4.6.5 The First Experiment
Many of the. chemistry texts I examined began with some discussion
of water as a molecular compound and what happens when sodium
chloride is added to it. (Snyder 1983, Hein and Arena 1993) Snyder's first
experiment was one that tested 3 solutions, pure water, pure, water and
sucrose, and pure water and sodium chloride. The test was to see which of
these solutions conducted electricity. The concepts taught in this
experiment lead to a discussion of electrolytes, ionic bonds, molecular
structure, cations and anions. I will attempt to use each of these ideas in
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my first experiment
Since this is the first experiment, this is the first time a player enters
the house. Therefore, I expect the user to search and explore throughout
.the.house. -A sign on the front door welcomes the user and gives her her
first assignment, to find the laboratory. This invites the user to explore
the house. While exploring, the user comes across some information not
necessarily relevant to the task at hand: portraits of female scientists, a
calendar showing Katie's plans for the month, a photo album that
contains pictures of Katie etc. She also finds information relevant to the
task as I will describe further.
While exploring, the user comes across a door that, when opened,
shows nothing but darkness. Theuser is not able to do anything inside
that door. The user also comes across a set-up that contains a light bulb
that is attached to some.sort of lid with wires dangling out. Next to it is 3
cups on which the lid will fit. They have a jug of water next to them.
/
There, is also a note, with "electrolyte" scribbled on it. The note defines an
electrolyte as a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water
or when melted if they don't dissolve. When the. user clicks on the light
bulb, the lightbulb-lid will place itself on top of the jar of water. The. light
bulb does not light. When the user clicks on die light bulb again, the light
bulb goes back to laying next to die jar. Now it is up to the user to find a
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substance that is an electrolyte. Upon her search, the user comes across a
piece of paper that will have a test question reading:
Which of the following molecular compounds is an electrolyte?
a) NaG
b) H2O
c) C12 H22 On
The user comes come across a table of the elements. The user is able
to click on an element and a name and description will pop-up.
Therefore, the user could click on Na and find that it was sodium, dick on
Q and find that it is chlorine etc. The user also has access to their lab book
that is provided with the.game. This lists the elements as well as some
molecular components. The. user could look under molecular
compounds and find sodium chloride, water and sucrose listed. In
addition, while exploring the user should come across some salt and sugar
in the cabinet. They are be labeled with "Sodium Chloride" and "sucrose".
The user then brings the sugar and or salt over to the light bulb jar and
pour some into the jar. When the. user clicks on the light bulb it pops
onto the jar. It only lights up when placed on a jar that has the sodium
chloride, solution in it. The lighting of the light bulb has some music
attached to it so suggest something important happened. At that point,
the cursor becomes a light bulb. The. user is able, to use this light to go
down to investigate what is behind the dark doorway. When entering the
dark basement, the user is able to see the stairs that she should descend
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and find a light switch for the lab. Here, in the lab, she performs another
experiment, this time using sodium and chloride.
4.6.6 The Lab
The laboratory that the user is asked to find in her first experiment
is used in each visit the user makes to Katie's house. The lab contains
many different lab tools that are usually found in most labs. Figure 4. 2
on page 82 displays the items that the user will find in the lab. Also found
in the lab are safety goggles, a fire extinguisher and various elements and
substances. Those chemicals that are dangerous are locked up and their
labels will indicate that they are a hazardous material. When in the lab,
the user has die option of putting on the "bubble, button". When this
button is "on" the user will be able to place the cursor over an instrument
in the lab and be. given a "bubble" that gives the name of that object The.
bubble would look like the balloon help that is found on Macintosh
computers. This helps the user find the required materials for her
experiment. When the user is finished finding what she needs, she can
turn the "bubble Button" off and the game returns to its previous state.
The lab contains a counter on which to perform experiments and
cabinets that hold the equipment. There is a locked cabinet that holds the
chemicals. The lock on this cabinet changes with each scenario. The way
that the user opens this lock is by answering some pertinent question
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regarding that scenario. There is a video cassette recorder in the lab
attached to a television. There is a tape laying next to the VCR that the
user is expected to pop into the VCR. Each scenario has a different tape
that is used. In the case of the first scenario/ the user is given a tape, on
Ionic compounds. This tape, shows the user why NaCl conducts electricity.
It begins with an atom of Sodium. It explains that each atom consists of
protons and electrons. Protons provide positive charges and electrons are
negatively charged. It is a magnetic attraction that holds them together.
There is discussion of quantum shells, that there are 2 electrons on the
first quantum and eight on the second quantum etc. An animated
diagram similar to Figure 4. 3 on page 83 is shown to the user. The
animation shows how the 11th electron in Na goes over to the third
quantum shell in the. Cl atom to produce sodium chloride.
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Figure 4. 3


After this demonstration, the videotape discusses the elements of
sodium and chlorine. It stresses that both are hazardous chemicals in
their pure form. Sodium in extremely small quantities can ignite when
mixed with water. Chlorine, a gas in its purest form is used to kill bacteria
in poolsand drinking water. Released into the air in large volumes it can
kill plants and animals who breath it. Chlorine was one of the poison
gases used in WWL The video tells the user that she will be performing
an experiment with sodium and chlorine and again warn of the
carefulness required in the use of these chemicals. The videotape tells the
user to follow the experiment listed in the book that is in the lab. When
the video tape is over, the user gathers the. equipment necessary for the
experiment. She is responsible for selecting the. items that will be used in
the experiment. When she selects the appropriate item, that item will
move to the counter top. There is a lock on the chemical cabinet that
requires the user to answer a questions correctly before the cabinet will
open. In the case of the first scenario, the user is asked:
Which of the following is a compound?
Sodium Chloride
Sodium
Chlorine
When the. user clicks on Sodium Chloride, the lock opens. Inside the
cabinet is the chemicals required for that experiment. There is also as
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many containers as needed labeled "Waste" this is for the discarding of
used chemicals.
The. actual performance, of the. sodium chloride experiment needs to
be discussed with a chemists that is familiar with this procedure. I was not
able, to find an example in any of my reference, books. I presume this is
due to the nature of the chemicals.
4.6.7 Other Scenarios
I have illustrated the first scenario which I was able to put together
myself using several references on chemistry experiments. In order to
devise additional scenarios that build upon each other, it will be necessary
to get input from experts in science education.
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5. Prototype Status and Conclusions
I constructed a prototype to demonstrate the way I expect a user to
navigate through the system and to demonstrate the design concepts
presented in the previous chapters. Following is the status of the.
prototype, suggested next steps required to complete, the. system and
conclusions drawn from the work to date.
5.1 Prototype Status
The current prototype focuses on the user interface. As such, it is
not a fully functioning simulation of the game. I have used the. first
experiment to demonstrate how the user will navigate through the game.
I implemeted one particular path of the game. While the aesthetic quality
of the prototype, is not quite what is expected of the actual implementation
of the game, the prototype demonstrates techniques used to make the
system appealing to girls.
5.1.1 Path Implemented in Prototype
The game, begins with the user in front of Katie's house. The
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introduction and instruction has not been implemented. The
implementation allows the user to click on the screen get a response from
the system. A click of the mouse either brings up a screen that takes the
user to a new location, makes the. object on which the clicked animate, or
does nothing. Figure 5-1 on the next page is a diagram of the. paths that are:
currently implemented in the prototype. At the start of the game, a click
anywhere on the. screen takes the user closer to the house until the user is
at the front door. The screen close-up of the front-door has several
options. The user can click on the. door, click on the note on the door, or
click on the doorbell. If the user clicks on anything other than these items,
nothing happens. If the user clicks on the door, it opens and closes. The
door does not remain open until after the. user has read the note that is on
the door. When the user clicks on the note, the user gets a close-up of the
note which reads "Welcome, Your first assignment: Find the laboratory" .
Now, when the user clicks on the door, it opens and stays open. The
doorbell is not implemented in the prototype.
Once the door is open, the user can enter the foyer of the house.
The user has the options of going into the living room or the dining
room, or upstairs. The path implemented in the prototype is the one
leading to the. dining room.
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Figure 5.1
Diagram of
Paths
Implemeted
1
Doorbell
(not imp)
Outside House
Door
Door open-d
^ If note not read
l note read
Door Open
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5.1.1.1 Dining Room
When the user clicks on the dining room from the foyer, the user is
put in the dining room facing the dining room table. Here, the user again
has several options:
note on table: this will show close-up of note which reads
"Electrolyte: a substance that conducts electricity when it is dissolved in
water or melted." A click on this screen brings the user back to the dining
room table.
hallway to kitchen: a click on this takes user into kitchen.
jars : a click on one of the jars or light bulbs on the table takes the
user to the. jars screen.
5.1.1.2 Jars
When the user clicks on the jars in the dining room, the user is
brought to this screen which contains 3 jars and 2 light bulb lids. One jar
already has a light bulb attached to it. The other light bulb lid is lying
down on the table. There are two possibilities in this screen:
The user has not yet found the salt in the kitchen: If the user clicks
on the light bulb, the light bulb animation is shown to the user. The light
bulb places itself on the back jar. When the user clicks again, the light bulb
moves to the next jar. When the user clicks again, the light bulb will go
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back to its spot on the table. Another click leads the user back to the dining
room table.
The user has found the salt in the kitchen and has clicked on it:
there .will be a container of salt on the table with the jars. If the user clicks
on the light bulb before clicking on the salt, the light bulb will behave as
above. When the user clicks on the salt, the pour salt animation is shown
to the user. The.salt picks itself up and pours into the closer jar. Next
time the user clicks on the light bulb, the bulb places itself on the jars.
When it is placed on the second one, it lights up. It the. intent of the
design that the cursor will become, a light bulb, but this is not
implemented in the prototype.
5.1.13 Kitchen
The. user gets to the kitchen from the dining room. In the
prototype, the transition is not as smooth the design intends. There are a
few transitional sequences not implemented. Once in the kitchen the user
again has several options:
Right Kitchen: a click on the right half of the kitchen takes the user
to the right side of the kitchen. A click on this side, takes the user to a
close-up of the salt cabinet.
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Left Kitchen: a click on the left hand side of the kitchen takes the
user to the left side of the kitchen. A click on the refrigerator takes the
user to a close-up of the refrigerator door.
refrigerator door: The refrigerator door is reached from the left
kitchen. The refrigerator door has various notes attached it. When the
user clicks on one, the screen transitions to a close-up of the note.
salt cabinet: The. user has several options on this screen. The user
may click on the calendar which gives the user a close-up of a. calendar.
Another option the user has is to click on the cabinet. This will take user
to the open cabinet wjo salt or the. open cabinet w/salt. Or, the user can
click elsewhere which will take the user back to the right kitchen screen.
Open cabinet w! salt: Once the user opens the cabinet, the user has
the option of clicking on the salt. This will make the salt disappear. The
next click take the. user to the close salt cabinet screen.
Open cabinet w/o salt: If the user has previously opened the salt
cabinet, the user comes to this screen when clicking on the salt cabinet
door. When the user clicks on the on this screen the user goes to the close
salt cabinet screen.
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Close salt cabinet: This takes the. user back to the salt cabinet screen.
5.2 Next Steps
The next steps of this project are completing the prototype of the
first experiment, testing it with some members of the target audience, and
modifying the design accordingly.
5.2.1 Completing the.Prototype
In order to determine if the user is able to use the game the. way it is
intended, the prototype, needs to be. more complete. As is, the prototype
allows the user to navigate through one path. In order find problems that
the user might have with the interface, it is important that the user be able
to navigate, through several paths. It is necessary to be able to see where
the user gets lost or stuck. In addition, it is important that the "User
Assistance" items mentioned in Chapter 4 be implemented so that the.
user will have the help available to her that is intended in the design.
The following need to be implemented:
The start-up screens. The opening sequence that explains the
game to the user should be implemented before the first test with users.
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The doorway to the laboratory. The darkened doorway that
leads to the lab needs to be added to the game.
The "get sugar" path. This entails putting sugar in the right
kitchen cabinet, and allowing the sugar path to behave like the "get salt"
path. The sugar will be poured into the back jar on the dining room table.
When the light bulb is placed on that jar, it will not light.
Portraits of female scientists scattered throughout the house
which will give short biographies that include their family lives.
5.2.2 Testing the Prototype
The prototype should be tested with girls between the ages of 10-13.
These subjects should be a mix of those with computer experience and
those with none. The first test of the prototype would be performed to
find out if the user navigates her way through the game as expected and
understands what is expected of her. The person giving the test should
observe what the user does not click or where she appears to be confused.
The. prototype should then be modified to try to eliminate these obstacles
and tested again with a new group of users.
5.3 Conclusions
This project demonstrates the feasibility of creating a computer
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