Learning Computer Programming: A Gamified Approach

Authors Mário Pinto , Teresa Terroso

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Author Details

Mário Pinto
  • uniMAD - ESMAD, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal
Teresa Terroso
  • uniMAD - ESMAD, Polytechnic of Porto, Portugal

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Mário Pinto and Teresa Terroso. Learning Computer Programming: A Gamified Approach. In Third International Computer Programming Education Conference (ICPEC 2022). Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 102, pp. 11:1-11:8, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


Learning computer programming is a difficult task for most students who start learning in this field. In fact, many students refer that learning computer programming is an arduous and difficult task, presenting some fear in addressing these issues. However, the main challenge for beginners is not in the language or syntax, but in devising a solution to solve the proposed problem. On the other hand, the younger audience is used to clicking on an icon and seeing an application with an appealing interface! Thus, students are often discouraged when, in a classroom, they have to implement an algorithm to classify numbers or sequences of characters and print them, sometimes in unappealing development environments. The lack of immediate feedback on the solution proposed by the student is another aspect that promotes some demotivation, as students often have no real idea of where they went wrong and how they can improve the solution they present. This paper describes the introduction of gamification elements in an introductory programming course, based on a conceptual framework proposed by Piteira. The main objective is to motivate and involve students in the learning process, through the introduction of strategies based on gamification (such as challenges, progression and levels), as well as strategies such as problem-based learning, seeking to make teaching programming more attractive and appealing to students. The paper describes a case study carried out in the course of algorithms and data structures in School of Media Arts and Design, at Polytechnic of Porto, in Portugal.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Computing methodologies
  • Applied computing → Computer-managed instruction
  • programming learning
  • teaching methodologies
  • teaching-learning
  • higher education
  • gamification


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