Playful Informatics and Eurologo

Károly Farkas
John von Neumann Computer Society
H-1054 Budapest, Báthory u. 16,
Hungary,
tel.: (361)132-9349,
fax:(361) 131-8140,
email:
h1033tit@ella.hu

Abstract

The paper shows a short view of contact Playful Informatics and the Eurologo biennial conferences. Playful Informatics is a Hungarian adoptation of logo-pedagogy, constructed for children from 5 to 12 years. The focus of this method is on playing using toys and games in conjunction with the computer and some other informatics instruments. Psychological tests have shown that this method is useful.

Keywords

Eurologo, Sakamoto, distress survey, motivation, empathy

1. Preliminary

In the era of low-capacity PC's (Sinclair, Commodore), Logo program language was only an interesting novelty, at almost every school BASIC language was taught. However, we, experts of pedagogy, saw that in the age of informatics mere instruction is far from being enough in public education. The adoptation of Logo-pedagogy strengthened our view that computer is much more than a new office-machine.

In Hungary, Playful Informatics, developed by my colleagues and me, is the first pedagogical project intended for young children (aged 5-10). Its paradigm has been built on Logo pedagogy and general technology. This body of knowledge and educational system have been created with the help of proceedings of EuroLogo conferences.

At the first EuroLogo conference there were no Hungarian participants. For the second conference, at Ghent, we were invited by Mr Martin Valcke. Three of us were present and Playful Informatics was presented by a poster. There we applied for the right to organize the next conference in Hungary, so as to help the development of Logo workshops and to publicize Logo in our country, but the International committee chose Parma. In Ghent we liked Professor Calabrese's presentation, "Martha - the intelligent turtle", and the Italian colleagues showed ther aptitude to organize the next conference. At Parma they did excellent work, both on the professional side and in organizing the conference. Its content and the circumstances were equally valuable. In my presentation I introduced Playful Informatics.

The activity of Eurologo Scientific Commitee has become continuous, due to Professor Calabrese and Mr M. Philip Doyle, among others. International relationships, informal and friedly meetings mean significant help in our research and development work. At the fourth Eurologo, near Athens, five Hungarians were present, and we gave several lectures. For the fifth conference Budapest competed with Birmingham for a long time, and, when finally Birmingham was chosen, the Committee simultaneously decided on Budapest as the site of the next, sixth conference, and in Birmingham this decision was only to be confirmed.

So Playful Informatics is well-known for experts who permanetly participate at Eurologo, and those who join us now, can be informed from earlier proceedings.

In this presentation I intend to present some scientific measurements of the effectivity of

Teaching Playful Informatics. I am going to introduce two of these surveys.

2 Distress Survey

The level of distress with pupils was assessed by a questionnaire which was compiled by a psychologist (Dr Éva Gárdos). It had 30 questions examining the presence of distress. The level of anxiety was marked by the number of "yes" answers. We administered the survey at randomly selected schools, in four classes learning Playful Informatics (PI) and in 11 control-group classes. The PI classes had their control-counterparts from the same school and from the same age-group. The results are shown in fig. 1.

Figure 1 Distress level

 

The tests had two important conclusions:

ad./1. In Hungarian primary schools the level of distress with pupils is higher than that could be justified.

In several classes the level exceeded 50 per cent of the maximum according to the test.

ad./2. Teaching Playful Informatics eases children's distress at school.

Those pupils who learn IT are more self-assured, less dubious about their knowledge and less self-conscious in public.

3 Yong Children Computer Inventory Test

At the beginning of this decade there was a multinational study of computer diffusion and computer impact on higher order cognitive processes respectively, very underway. The 17 nations - Hungary was one of them - Information Technology in Education of Children (ITEC) Project [2] was of special interest because it offered the opportunity for establishing complementary research agendas, sharing some measurement instruments, and comparative analysis of findings. From Hungary the members of this measurement were playful informatics groups.

Professor Takashi Sakamoto of the Tokyo Institute of Technology made the original test battery. The formulated focus was the impact of computer use on young children's psychological attributes related to learning: attitudes toward computers, motivation, study habits, empathy, and creative tendencies.

The YCCI was pilot tested in the US and Japan during 1990, then from 1990 to 1993 administered in Japan, US, Mexico, Hawaii. The findings can be found in the experts’ publication [3]. The authors said it was not only possibile but definitely adviseable to use this test in other parts of the world. Last year my group made the Hungarian version of the test, and carried out the experiment.

4 Instrument

The Hungarian YCCI is a 48-item Likert type self-rating questionnaire measuring. It was made from YCCI, English Language Version 3.1 and YCCI, Japanese Language Version 3.7 The number of Likert choice categories was 4. The English version questions can be found in Appendix 1.

5 Subjects

In Hungary students were chosen from 5 schools. In four schools students learn Playfull Informatics. One school of these four is my experiment school, where every class learns informatics [4] The fifth school was the control group. This one is a well situated suburb school in a rich part of the capital. The others were different, we chose both urban and country, private and state schools. The total number of students asked was 594.

6 Procedure

We administered YCCI as administration procedures recommended in the Handbook for the YCCI [5]. The recommended YCCI scoring procedure is to simply sum the numeric values of the responses for related items listed in the order of questionnaire, to produce six subscale scores. These subscales are: Creative tendencies, computer enjoyment, computer importance, empathy, study habits, motivation/persistence. We analized data with computer with SPSS programme as well. We created 9 factors. The Hungarian factors - which we got from factor analysis - were very similar to Japanese ones. Then analizing variation and Tukey-HSD test can be carried out to see whether the groups are significantly different from each other.

7 Results

The main findings are:

 

  1. From the first two genders - the experimental and the control - in all points of view is significantly differents, and always the experimental is the better.
  2. This test says in Hungary there is no strong difference between boys and girls in experted aspects.
  3. The special Playful Informatics subject 58 times out of 64 is 91% better compared to the control group. Three caracterized example can be seen in Fig 3, 4 and 5. In every figures the firsts columns are the control and the rests are playful groups, the last ones are from my experimental school.

Figure 2 Computer enjoyment and computer importance in first grade groups

Figure 3 Empathy in first grade groups

Figure 4 Creativity in first grade groups

Figure 5 Study habits in first grade groups

4. The computer use (our special subject) increases high level creativity, computer importance and computer enjoyment, and also the level of empathy and motivation, but at a smaller extent.

5. The international comparison shows that the Hungarian populations - the last group of columns is the Hungarian samle average - can be found in the middle almost in every aspect. („Tokio inf." means: A school in Tokyo with computer, „Tokio komp. nélk." means: A school in Tokyo without computer.) You can see the international comparison in Fig. 6.

Figure 6

 

Eurologo conferences and the advice of our colleagues helped us a lot in the development of Playful Informatics.

We would like to thank you for all that.

8 References

  1. Farkas, K. (1993) Playful Informatics. Dissertation.
  2. Collis, B. (1993) The ITEC Project: Information Technology in Education of Children. Final Report of Phase 1. University of Twente, Netherlands: UNESCO Division of Higher Education.
  3. Knezek, G., Miyashita, K. and Sakamoto, T. (1995) Finding from the Young Children's Computer Inventory Project. World Conference on Computers in Education VI. Proceedings of the Conference. pp. 909-920.
  4. Farkas, K. (1993) Informatics Games for Developing Children's Thinking Ability. IFIP Transaction A-34: Informatics and Changes in Learning. pp. 87-93.
  5. Knezek, G., Miyashita, K. (1993) Handbook for the Young Children's Computer Inventory. Denton, TX: Texas Center for Educational Technology.

 

Appendix 1.

YCCI, English Language Version 3.1. (48 item, 4-pt. scale)
Young Children’s Computer Inventory
Name:

This questionnaire has 4 parts. Follow along with each statement as your teacher reads it then circle the number wich best shows how you feel.

Part I.

Part I is about computers.

Maybe Maybe

No No Yes Yes

  1. I enjoy doing jobs which use a computer.
  2. I am tired of using a computer.
  3. I will be able to get a good job if I learn how to use a computer.
  4. I concentrate on a computer when I use one.
  5. I enjoy computer games very much.
  6. I would work harder if I could use computers more often.
  7. I think that it takes a long time to finish when I use a computer.
  8. I know that computers give me opportunities to learn many new things.
  9. I can learn many things when I use a computer.
  10. I enjoy lessons on the computer.
  11. I belive that the more often teachers use computers, the more I will enjoy school.
  12. I belive that it is very important for me to learn how to use a computer.
  13. I think that computers are very easy to use.
  14. I would like to study with teacher rather than using a computer.

Parts II, III, and IV are related to other experiences.

Part II

  1. I study by myself without anyone forcing me to study.
  2. If I do not understand a problem, I will not stop working on it.
  3. When I do not understand something, I keep working until I find the answer.
  4. I review my lessons every day.
  5. I try to finish whatever I begin.
  6. Sometimes, I change my study habits.
  7. I enjoy working on a difficult problem.
  8. I think about many ways to solve a difficult problem and I never give up.
  9. I never forget to do my homework.
  10. I like to work out problems which I can use in my life every day.
  11. If I do not understand my teacher, I ask him/her questions.

Part III

  1. I feel sad when I see a child crying.
  2. I sometimes cry when I see a sad play or movie.
  3. I get angry when I see a friend who is treated badly
  4. I feel sad when I see old people alone.
  5. I worry when I see a sad friend.
  6. I feel very happy when I listen to a song I like.
  7. I do not like to see a child play alone, without a friend.
  8. I feel sad when I see an animal hurt.
  9. Children who have no friends sometimes do not want a friend.
  10. I feel happy when I see a friend smiling.

Part IV

  1. I examine unusual things.
  2. I find new things to play with or to study, without any help.
  3. When I think of a new thing, I apply what I have learned before.
  4. I tend to consider various ways of thinking.
  5. I create many unique things.
  6. I do things by myself without depending upon others.
  7. I find different kinds of materials when the ones I have do not work are not enough.
  8. I examine unknown issues to try to understand them.
  9. I make a plan before I start to solve a problem.
  10. I invent games and play them with friends.
  11. I invent new methods when one way does not work.
  12. I choose my own way without imitating methods of others.
  13. I tend to think about the future.