By gamifying the paper-based training materials into digital games, I implemented one of the gaming modules and wrote the corresponding parser to collect the in-game players’ behavioral data, in order to help researchers or instructors acquire more insights into players’ problem-solving strategies. Besides this project, I also worked on another project during my visit at UIUC.
Ziang Xiao, Zeya Peng, Hanfei Ren, Shiliang Zuo, Yuqi Yao
Research has demonstrated that spatial visualization skills are crucial for success in STEM disciplines. With an increasing number of students entering STEM disciplines, the question of how to effectively train students’ spatial visualization skills has become very important. While a scalable existing solution is to implement online workshops for students, the problem of how to motivate students to participate in these online workshops remains unsolved. In this study, we studied gamification as a way to motivate first year engineering students to take part in an online workshop designed to train their spatial visualization skills. Our game contains eight modules, each designed to train a different component of spatial visualization. The game records players’ in-game behavior with high granularity, which allows us to provide automated, scalable feedback on players’ problem-solving strategies. Ten students with different levels of spatial ability played our game and expressed a strong interest in using the game to train their spatial visualization skills in the future. In addition, our analysis of players’ ingame behaviors shows the potential benefits of implementing adaptive and personalized learning guidance.
Download Paper: PDF
Ziang Xiao, Helen Wauck, Zeya Peng, Hanfei Ren, Lei Zhang, Shiliang Zuo, Yuqi Yao, and Wai-Tat Fu. 2018. Cubicle: An Adaptive Educational Gaming Platform for Training Spatial Visualization Skills. In 23rd International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI ’18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 91-101. DOI: 10.1145/3172944.3172954
The Flat Pattern is the module that I implemented independantly. In this game, the player is shown a 2D flat target pattern and a corresponding 3D model. The player can cut an edge to unbind the two faces that it connects, then unfold the whole model progressively. The goal is to unfold the 3D model and make it the same pattern as the 2D target pattern. The player is only allowed to undo one edge cutting; otherwise, the level needs to be reset.
Different levels are designed based on the complexity of the 3D model and the number of hints to help the students acquire the related visuospatial skills gradually. At first, hints are given by displaying icons on certain faces to help the player establish the correspondence between the 3D model and the 2D pattern. As the difficulty increases, players must establish the relationship on their own with fewer hints and more complicated models.
This game module aims to enhance students’ capabilities of establishing the corresponding relationship between a 3D model and the unfolded 2D pattern. This requires the ability of 2D to 3D transformation and perspective taking. During the gameplay, the player is expected to envision the spatial relationship between faces on a 3D model.
To connect the 8 game modules, we design a dungeon maze. The premise of the game is that the player is trapped in a dungeon maze. To escape, the player needs to navigate through the maze and unlock all the rooms. The player starts from a large center room with multiple smaller adjoining rooms. Each smaller room contains a totem, the entry to a game module. In each game module, a chain of locked rooms contains different levels in that game module. Finishing the game task in the room is the only way to unlock the door to the next room.
Tutorials & Behavioral Data
To make sure that the player grasps the gaming techniques quickly, I designed and implemented a tutorial, which guides the player to get familiar with the basic operations and unfold a simple cube progressively everytime when the player enters the Flat Pattern module.
A csv file is generated for each player to record every step of the player’s operations. The data include the operation type, the clicked line, the timestamp, the time cost of each level, and the final score. These behavioral data during gameplay is essential to help researchers or instructors acquire more insights into players’ problem-solving strategies and assess their corresponding abilities.
User Study & More Details
See: Ziang Xiao, Helen Wauck, Zeya Peng, Hanfei Ren, Lei Zhang, Shiliang Zuo, Yuqi Yao, and Wai-Tat Fu. 2018. Cubicle: An Adaptive Educational Gaming Platform for Training Spatial Visualization Skills. In 23rd International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI ’18).