An adaptive educational computer game: Effects on students' knowledge and learning attitude in computational thinking

Danial Hooshyar, Liina Malva, Yeongwook Yang, Margus Pedaste, Minhong Wang, Heuiseok Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Several studies have reported that adaptivity and personalization in educational computer games facilitate reaching their full educational potential. However, there is little effort to develop adaptive educational computer games for promoting students' computational thinking (CT). In this study, an adaptive computer game is introduced, called AutoThinking, that not only promotes both CT skills and conceptual knowledge, but also provides adaptivity in both game-play and learning processes. To evaluate the possible effects of the game, an experimental study was carried out with 79 students in an elementary school in Estonia. AutoThinking and a conventional technology-enhanced learning approach were used for teaching CT to the experimental and control group, respectively. Our results reveal that AutoThinking improved students’ CT skills and conceptual knowledge better than the conventional approach. It was also found that students with a low and high level of prior knowledge made higher improvement in knowledge gain using the adaptive game compared to the traditional approach, especially those students with lower prior knowledge. Finally, our findings show that the adaptive game could also improve students' learning attitude toward CT better than the conventional approach, especially those students with higher prior learning attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106575
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the University of Tartu ASTRA Project PER ASPERA, financed by the European Regional Development Fund; the MSIT (Ministry of Science and ICT ), Korea, under the ITRC (Information Technology Research Center) support program (IITP-2020-2018-0-01405) supervised by the IITP (Institute for Information & Communications Technology Planning & Evaluation); and the Institute for Information & communications Technology Planning & Evaluation ( IITP ) grant funded by the Korea government ( MSIT ) (No. 2020-0-00368 , A Neural-Symbolic Model for Knowledge Acquisition and Inference Techniques).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Adaptive educational computer game
  • Adaptive game-play
  • Adaptive learning
  • Computational thinking knowledge and skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology


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