Designing effective educational software: Involving children in the design process

Barbara Moskal, Leanne Hirshfield

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


According to proponents of educational software, one manner in which to improve student learning is to provide students with personalized tutors through the use of educational software. However, without the authoritative involvement of a teacher, many students are not motivated to learn material presented via computer. The challenge to educational software designers is to create environments that motivate students to think reflectively about content, encouraging them to invest time and energy in the learning process. One manner in which to accomplish this goal may be to include student ideas when developing software. This paper presents the results of a research investigation that examined the inclusion of middle school students in the process of designing educational software. Eight middle school students participated in a focus group discussion, during which time they generated ideas for teaching fractional content. Based on their input, an educational game was developed. Sixty-three middle school students who had not participated in the focus group were then randomly assigned to either treatment or control group. The treatment group worked with the software that was developed based on the ideas of the middle school focus group; the control group worked with software that was developed based on the ideas of adult software designers. Both games had nearly identical fraction content and the differences between the two games stemmed primarily from the ideas produced by the student designers. Results suggest that students working with the game based on middle school students' ideas had a greater increase in fractional knowledge as measured by a content assessment than did those that worked on the game developed by adult designers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
Event113th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2006 - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Jun 18 2006Jun 21 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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