Student preferences between open-ended and structured game assignments in CS1

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Computer Science

Conference Title

Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE

Date of Presentation



Introductory computer programming courses (CS1) traditionally are plagued with high failure and drop-out rates. In an attempt to change these negative outcomes, games have often been introduced into computing curricula as learning activities and programming projects. This paper builds on prior work to determine (a) the type of game assignment that students prefer (i.e., structured game assignments [those for which the entire assignment is completely described] or open-ended game assignments [those for which only basic requirements are specified allowing students to make up their own game]); and, (b) students' reasons for their preference. Forty-six students in two sections of an introductory programming course completed over 200 assignments during the fall 2009 semester. For each assignment, students were given a choice between structured and open-ended game assignments. Somewhat surprisingly, over 90% of submitted assignments were the structured game option even though the open-ended option could have required less code in most cases. © 2010 IEEE.