And so it begins: brief description of my thesis idea

Let me start by throwing out my thesis idea in a short and sweet way and then follow up with details. In a nutshell, my thesis project is a scholarly paper which describes the process of designing learning games which adapt based on the play-learners.

I’m officially starting my thesis project with this very blog post. But, unofficially and also unknowingly, I’ve been working on it for over a year now. I say unknowingly because i had no idea that this game that i’m working on in my first semester in the program will end up being part of my thesis project. To put things in context the game in question is Monkey Swing is a web based color-matching memory game developed in collaboration with C.R.E.A.T.E lab at New York University.

The crucial term in my thesis is adapt which is a loaded term and means different things to different people. The type of adaptivity which i plan to implement is primarily based on the cognitive skills of the play-learners. Hence the idea is to infer the cognitive skills with the help of game logs and change the game in real-time to enhance cognitive growth of play-learners. Moreover, i’m exploring other learner variables which might be predictive of players success in the game and also indicative of skill transfer after playing the game. The idea would then be to cater to different classes of learners by switching (in-real time) to the optimal learning strategy for the particular player. You can find more about adaptivity in Monkey Swing on this page.

The purpose of my thesis is to discover the effect of adaptivity on play-learners in an executive-functions learning game. I plan to explore this topic by conducting a value added research study, in which the experimental group will play the adaptive version of Monkey Swing and the control group will play the non-adaptive version. A Pre and post-test will be able to bring forward the differences in improvement of executive functions of the two groups.

I’m currently setting the scope of my thesis to a scholarly paper but it might be extended to be a research study if possible. The possibility of conducting the research study will depend on scheduling and resource allocation of the involved research lab.

2 thoughts on “And so it begins: brief description of my thesis idea

  1. Thank you for the suggestions. I have talked to Al about my thesis. Moreover, i’m collaborating with C.R.E.A.T.E lab, and they have adopted Adaptivity as a research theme. It’s exciting to work on a topic which a lot of people are interested in!

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  2. Great topic! I’m sure you’ve talked to Al about his ideas on this?! I know he’s very interested (or at least was a year ago) on ways to adapt learning environments based on emotion detection through EEG. Hope I’m remembering correctly.

    Somewhat relevant is an article I just read in ACM:
    http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2015/9/191189-automated-education-and-the-professional/abstract
    “What will really disrupt academia is not mass production of impersonal teaching but mass access to personalized learning, plus employment selection based on demonstrated competencies, not academic credentials. That is the fate that now faces academia.”

    Combine that idea with the power of games and I think you’re on to a very interesting thesis project!

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