Teaching teamwork and communication skills by using a studio-based learning model in a multidisciplinary course on game design




Estey, Anthony

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Jobs in the computing field demand communication and teamwork skills in addition to programming skills. Focus needs to be shifted at the undergraduate level towards developing collaborative skills to enable a smooth transition into employment in academia or industry. With computer science bachelors degree production at a record low, games courses have been gaining in popularity, as there has been growing evidence showing positive enrollment and student engagement results. Building upon other game programs that had successful results, I present a game design course developed to attract students of all disciplines. Our course is different because we focus on three main issues identified by recent industry studies: cooperative learning, peer review, and team orientation. The course was successful in attracting students across multiple disciplines, and an analysis indicated increased student interest in pursuing a computer science degree. Unfortunately, the same pre- and post-surveys suggested that our collaborative activities may have resulted in a decrease in student interest regarding course work and in pursuing studies in game design. Student feedback also informed us that students felt uncomfortable participating in some of our peer review activities. Because of these results, I used a studio-based pedagogical approach to restructure the peer review activities in our course. In our previous offering, students received peer feedback only on their final game presentation. In our latest offering, we integrated peer review activities into every step of the game development process, allowing students to use the feedback received in the peer review activities to refine their work while progressing through a game project. A quantitative analysis informs us that our refined peer review activities were successful in increasing student presentation confidence, sense of competition and community, and excitement towards their course projects. A qualitative analysis suggests that studio-based learning can provide a better learning environment for our students. Most importantly, students reported that they found this type of peer review to be useful in aiding them towards achieving their learning goals. The course at the University of Victoria is a course on game design, but I suggest that the studio-based learning model can be very effective in any course where students are instructed to submit unique projects, or unique solutions to a given problem. I recommend studio-based learning to any educators interested in cooperative learning, or considering integrating peer review activities into their course work.



Computer science, Study and teaching (Higher)