SCRATCH PROGRAMMING AND REMIX CULTURE: GENDER DIFFERENCES IN INTERACTION AND MOTIVATION FOR PRE-ADOLESCENTS
Adleberg, Barrie Michelle
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines have become a ubiquitous curriculum focus for American educators and children's entertainment producers, but are the ways in which children are introduced STEM truly engaging? This study set out to explore factors that affect a positive learning experience with STEM and the ways in which children are creating interactive content. In this study, girls and boys from 9-12 years of age worked as partners to produce original and remixed digital works of art using Scratch. Each participant in this study had four Scratch lessons. There were six classes of students (two from each grade: fourth, fifth, and sixth) and each class had one Scratch session per week. In total, the experimenter ran 24 instructional sessions for 98 participating students.What it means to be a digital game designer today is an ever-expanding construct because of the rise of kid-generated content and the popularity of remix. The relationship between gamers and games is no longer one-sided. Building on research on incidental learning through play, this study explores gender differences in motivation and engagement for novice programmers. While existing research concludes that variables such as female mentorship and open-ended platform design are key to motivate girls as programmers, this study builds on that premise and finds that extrinsic factors including peer approval, teacher and parent feedback, and class achievement highly affected engagement motivation for girls. Data revealed that girls were more sensitive to extrinsic motivators than boys. This finding suggests that the gender disparity in computer science can be remedied through immersive, extrinsically motivating environments. Combined with external feedback and reward, emergent platforms that give children the autonomy of open-ended creation have the potential to draw in a more diverse user base.
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