X World Conference on Computers in Education July 2-5, 2013; Toruń, Poland Engineering Students Programming of Mathematical
Model Simulations within Serious Game
to Promote their Learning

Angel Pretelín-Ricárdez, apretelin@ipn.mx
Instituto Politécnico Nacional, UPIITA, Mexico
Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados (Cinvestav-IPN), Mexico
Ana Isabel Sacristán, asacrist@cinvestav.mx
Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados (Cinvestav-IPN), Mexico
It is common for engineering lecturers at undergraduate level to face questions by
students on how mathematical concepts and tools relate to the real world in which
they will work. These questions arise often when the mathematics that is being
taught is not placed in the context in which it will be used.
We thus wanted to relate and contextualize the mathematics used in modelling in engineering. That is why we are carrying out a study with a group of undergradu-ate engineering students on how to create a learning situation that both contextual-izes the mathematical concepts as well as facilitates their learning; it is thus that we conceived the creation of a constructionist microworld for the programming –by the students— of a serious game (SG) for the treatment of those concepts. The idea of programming for learning is a basic concept of the constructionist paradigm (Papert & Harel, 1991) that we consider central in our work. In order to build the SG, stu-dents would also need to mathematically model certain ideas, as well as construct simulations. For all of that, it is important to establish a proper didactical sequence within the microworld. The main objective is that each student (or team of students) designs and pro- grams (builds) a SG that is both effective and meaningful in the context of the engi-neering concepts that are being studied. Each student, or team of students, chooses a problem that is linked to a story that he/she will develop in the SG. Relevant theoretical and methodological foundations are found in the works by Yasmin B. Kafai and colleagues (e.g. Kafai, Franke, Ching & Shih, 1998). These authors present some of the foundations and structure of our methodology such as the use of the constructionist paradigm in game design, even though those works are with younger learners than the ones in our study. One of the key ideas is that “game design provide[s] a situation that naturally combine[s] issues of practice and theory, and reflection on those relationships and game design provided opportuni-ties for discussion, reflection, and collaboration within a meaningful context” (Kafai et al., 1998; p. 180). Other recent works in this area are those by Baytak and Land (2010), as well as that of Holbert, Penney and Wilensky (2010) who present some considerations for implementing constructionism in the design of action games.
Serious Games, constructionism, microworlds, learning trajectories, mathematical
Baytak, A., Land, S. M. (2010). A case study of educational game design by kids
and for kids. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 5242-5246 Holbert, N., Penney, L.,& Wilensky, U. (2010). Bringing Constructionism to Action Gameplay. In J. Clayson & I. Kalas (Eds.) Proceedings of the Constructionism 2010 Conference. Paris, France, Aug 10-14. Kafai, Y. B., Franke, M., Ching, C., & Shih, J. (1998). Game design as an interactive learning environment fostering students’ and teachers’ mathematical inquiry. In-ternational Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning, 3(2), 149–184. Papert, S. & Harel, I. (1991). Situating Constructionism. In I. Harel & S. Papert (ed.) Constructionism. Ablex Publishing Corporation. Retrieved January, 2012, from papert.org: http://www.papert.org/articles/SituatingConstructionism.html Biographies
Angel Pretelín-Ricárdez received his M.Sc. in Physics Educa-
tion at Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute in 2010 and is
currently pursuing a PhD degree in Mathematics Education at
Centre for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav-IPN),
Mexico. He is also a lecturer at the National Polytechnic Insti-
tute, UPIITA-IPN. His research interest focuses on serious
games, videogame-based learning, and virtual and construc-
tionist technological environments in education. Ana Isabel Sacristán, PhD is a full researcher at the Depart-
ment of Mathematics Education of the Centre for Research and
Advanced Studies (Cinvestav-IPN) in Mexico City, where she
has worked since 1989. She has been part of many interna-
tional committees and been visiting professor in several coun-
tries, most recently at the Lyon-ENS, France. Her main area of
research is on the teaching and learning of mathematics

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