Slide 1


Games-based Learning of

Systems Analysis and Design

Dr Jon Tepper

School of Science and Technology


T: 0115 848 8363 |

Common core module: no free lunch!

Challenge of

Learning Systems

Analysis & Design

Building on what they already know

Teaching and learning differently

Impact of new approach


Common core modules: no free lunch!






Systems Analysis &

Design (20/30/40 cpt)

1)Select an appropriate systems development methodology

2)Analyse a system using appropriate systems thinking and problem solving techniques.

3)Construct an effective project and risk assessment plan

4)Formulate a set of process and related logic models.

5)Formulate a normalised data model




Maintaining relevance!!

Spanning 10 courses in total, 200+ students per year, split into groups of 4-5 for the coursework

Learning Systems Analysis & Design

• Requires students to

plan, analyse and collaborate

• Traditional

lectures, seminars and labs struggle to promote these skills

(Oh Navarro & Van der Hoek, 2005)

• Year 1 students have little affinity to learning software engineering (Shaw &

Dermoudy, 2005)

Build on what they already know!

• Basic tenet of constructivism (Piaget, 1960; Bruner,

1977; Vygotsky, 1980)

Knowledge of the world is specific to the individual o Students’ construct their own understanding of the world using own perceptual and conceptual abilities

Adaptation is key - initial conceptual structures are continually being adapted in response to new experiences, actions and knowledge

Social interaction is essential for validating new/existing conceptual structures

Implications for Teaching

• Remember: students perceive their environment differently to us (Biggs & Tang, 2011) o Mismatch in expectations will lead to disequilibrium in teaching system o Consequences: disengagement, inappropriate study techniques, answering the wrong question o Set clear expectations and ensure agreement

• Always focus on what the student is doing o Apply constructive alignment (Biggs & Tang,

2011) i.e. getting students to engage in learning activities that are likely to result in their achieving the learning outcomes o Build on their existing knowledge….even if it doesn’t relate directly to the content

We can all play games!

“Games foster play, which produces a state of flow, which increases motivation, which supports the learning process…..well-designed game mechanics can result in learning experiences which are intrinsically motivating”

(Paras and Bizzocchi, 2005)

Games-based learning (GBL) approaches apply the principles of game play to educational contexts

Most common approach is to develop computer games to create immersive environments using virtual reality and/or multi-media to help students learn and problem solve

Why are games engaging?

• In his popular book, Marc

Prensky (2001, p106) revealed the following reasons: o form of fun o form of play o have rules o have goals o have outcomes and feedback

Groff et al (2010) found evidence to support this

GBL is not new in teaching SE/SA&D

SimSE: software simulations of managing large teams and projects and dealing with project plans, budgets and unexpected events. A single player game that situates the student as a project manager. (Oh Navarro & van der Hoek, 2005)

SimJavaSP: an interactive web-based, graphical simulation game of SDLC, student acting as project manager (Shaw and Dermoudy, 2005)

• Hainey et al (2011) developed a GBL game

to teach requirements collection and proved as effective as role-playing and more effective than paper-based case studies.


• Need to balance trade-off between enjoyment and educational value

• Drappa and Ludewig (2000) reported that their simulation game, SESAM, enhanced students’ motivation but failed to sufficiently improve either their learning or skills due to lack of interactive feedback


• How about having students

design a game rather than playing it?

• Prof Rachel McCrindle did just this for her 1 st year

SWEng students at Uni of


• Not a computer game but a board game

• Excellent student outcomes reported after 6 years of use

Won HEA Engineering Subject

Centre’s Teaching Award 2010 nal/staffportal/news/articles/sp sn-291537.aspx

My approach to teaching differently

• Create an open-ended GBL-based assessment brief

• Follow McCrindle’s shift towards designing a game


Assessment brief Deliverables

You are required to design and model a board game which teaches managers about a systems development methodology. The methodology must be relevant to your course (e.g. agile methodology for BSc (H) Computer Science with

Games Tech, spiral methodology for BSc (H)

Information Systems).

The game must teach management about each of the four phases of the systems development lifecycle, namely, planning, analysis, design and implementation. In order for you to design and model the game, you will be required to move through the Planning and Analysis stages yourself.

REPORT consisting of following sections:

I. Introduction to Team and Methodology

II. Team Concept Maps

III. Project Schedule & Risk Assessment

IV. System Proposal

The name of your game; Game description; Motivation or inspiration; Game objective; list of functional and nonfunctional requirements; a summary of the Use Cases; the following three process models: Context level DFD, Logical level 0 DFD, Logical level 1 DFD for a level 0 DFD process;

A logic model illustrating some calculation within the game

(i.e. Structured English, Decision Tree or Decision Table);

Logical Data Models consisting of a single table containing

UNF, 1NF, 2NF and 3NF data and an ERD for 3NF tables showing key attributes only

V. Evaluation

Some interesting outcomes…

From not very original….

Teaches management about a prototyping methodology

• Based on monopoly

• Aim is to complete 3 board iterations (prototypes) each time gaining a letter of W, I or N

• Obstacles, traps, perks and question cards relating aspects of SDLC & methodology to add excitement

to original and interesting….

Teaches management about Spiral Methodology

• 2-6 player board game

• Start at the centre of spiral and work way around to the outside of spiral through each cell by taking turns to roll dice and answer question

• Each cell has a number of points to win or lose depending on answering questions (min=0)

• Planning section includes ‘risk assessment’ questions which doubles players scores

• Winner is the one who exists the Spiral with the highest points

to showing excellence!

Teaches management about Extreme Programming Agile Methodology

• Inspired by Talisman and

AtmosFear board games

To win, a player must either: o be first to the centre within 45 mins OR o (if no-one makes it) the one with the most code/test objects

• Timer for 45 mins starts game and is monitored by


• Players roll dice and move around the board in turn, answering questions to pick up code and test objects

• A number of levels on the board – each refers to a version of the system and can only move to next level if answer key ‘user acceptance test’ question

• Regular interrupts by DVD halts timer and issues instructions to do activities

Impact and evaluation

Impact of new approach


3 Year











Median 57.98

Max 87.62









• 2012 results saw significant improvement over 3YA

• More challenged students better able to engage with module

• Robust improvements in mean & median indicate most students advantaged by the approach

• Although poorer performance observed for max, not entirely unexpected as previous assessment scenarios were closed rather than open-ended = more demand on students as contextualise the assessment for themselves

• Post-curriculum review version of module (2012/2013): Min=Fmid (32%)

Avg=Mid 2.2, Median=Low 2.1, Max High 1 st (89)

IO3YA – Improvement over 3 Year Average

Helped take out basic knowledge of SAD to a higher level. We now feel we have modelling skills to carry out projects to a high standard

Helped us to understand the principles of SAD as it made us go through the stages ourselves to design and model the game

Helped us to learn the principles in the textbook

– brought them to life

Common student feedback

Not a good idea – we felt a system such as an on-line ordering system would have been better as we would apply to real-world situation

‘showed’ us the advantages and disadvantages of different methodologies and relevance to our programme. We can now justify the methdologies we choose

Proved resourceful for learning the tools we have been taught however we recommend you are actually required to build a prototype of the board game rather than just model it!


• Presented an approach that moved away from closed assessment scenarios to open-ended ones

• A variant of McCrindle’s GBL approach was taken to have students design a board game to learn a systems development methodology (rather than by playing a digital game)

• Inherently constructivist: o Common knowledge of board games used as a means for learning subject-specific knowledge o concept mapping was used to enable groups to visualise and evolve their understanding over time .

Thank you!

Q & A


• Biggs, J., and Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university. 4th ed. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher

Education & Open University Press.

• Bruner, J. S. (1977). The Process of Education, Cambridge, Mass:

Harvard University Press.

• Drappa, A., and Ludewig, J (2000) Simulation in Software Engineering

Education Education. In Proceedings of the 22nd International

Conference on Software Engineering, Limerick, Ireland, ACM Press, pp.


• Groff, J., Howells, C. and Cranmer, S. (2010). The Impact of Games in the Classroom: Evidence from schools in Scotland. Bristol: Futurelab.

• Hainey, T., Connolly, T.M., Stansfield, M.H., and Boyle, E.A. (2011).

"Evaluation of a Games to Teach Requirements Collection and Analysis in Software Engineering at Tertiary Education Level", Computers and

Education, Vol. 56, Issue 1, pp 21-35.

• McCrindle, R. (2010) Software engineering –engagement through innovative and interaction. Higher Education Academy, Engineering

Subject Centre, Teaching Award 2010

2010/210610-McCrindle-TA2010_web.pdf (accessed 05 September



• Oh Navarro, E., and van der Hoek, A (2005) On the Role of Learning

Theories in Furthering Software Engineering Education. In H.J.C. Ellis,

S.A. Demurjian, and J.F. Naveda (Eds), Software Engineering: Effective

Teaching and Learning Approaches and Practices, IGI Global, 2008.

• Paras, B. and Bizzocchi, J. (2005). Games, Motivation and Effective

Learning: An integrated model for educational game design.

Proceedings of the DiGRA 2005 Conference, ‘Changing Views:Worlds in

Play’, Vancouver, Canada

• Piaget, J. (1960). The Psychology of Intelligence. Totowa, NJ: Littlefield

Adams & Co.

• Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Games-Based Learning. New York: McGraw-


• Shaw, K. and Dermoudy, J. (2005). Engendering an empathy for software engineering. In Proceedings of the 7th Australasian Computing

Education Conference (ACE2005), Newcastle, Australia, 42, 135–144

• Vygotsky, L. S (1980) Mind in Society, (Eds. M. Cole., V. John-Steiner,

S. Scribner, and E. Souberman), Harvard University Press; New Ed edition, 15 Oct 1980.