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Testing Construct 2's efficiency in education

  • Hello! I'm a hungarian university student, and my research topic is teaching Construct 2 in high schools.

    I'd like to ask a question to the teachers who teach Construct 2:

    How do you tested Construct 2's efficiency in education? Are there any current methods for testing such visual languages?

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  • Did you saw this post:

  • No, and thank you for posing it. It does contain some valuable information, but it's not what I'm looking for. I want to find some method to measure Construct 2's efficiency in education against usual programming languages.

    I'm looking for answers for questions like "How faster do they learn to program?" "Do they develop their algorithmic skills faster witch Construct 2?".

  • Hi there!

    I've used Construct 2 across most of my Computing classes. It has positives and negatives compared to other programming languages and I guess every teacher will see this differently so I can only talk from my point of view.

    What is really good about Construct 2 is that it is engaging and fun. Most students have a good go at it and enjoy building games. I teach via video tutorials, so everyone gets to build something and then differentiate students through extensions, modifications, investigations and their own projects depending on their skill and motivation.

    My other main resource for programming is Scratch and, in Australia, when you look at the Computer Science syllabus for upper school, I find Scratch prepares students better for traditional programming concepts such as sequence, selection, iteration and procedures.

    What both achieve is learning how to think and problem solve, but I find that Scratch prepares them better for traditional programming which students will encounter in upper school, school exams.

    Let me know if you want to know anything specific.

  • Thank you for the answer philscomputerlab . Can you please write about how Scratch is preparing students better for traditional programming in more detail? Did you have the opportunity to test these students about their algorithmic knowledge?

    I think Scratch is a great tool, but in my opinion nowadays it's very important for the students to see what they can achieve with what they learn. I mean, the students have to see the opportunities in their work. Will they use Scratch later on to develop serious applications/games? I don't think that's possible.

  • For starters Construct 2 is event driven. This makes it difficult to teach sequence. Putting commands in the right order. In Construct 2 it doesn't matter what comes first, a collision event with a sprite or a create object event to spawn new objects.

    Doing trace tables is something you can't do with C2. Well not properly.

    In your country, I recommend you look at the Computer Science Curriculum and see what final year students need to demonstrate.

    In Australia Computer Science students create all sorts of diagrams, trace tables and write algorithms using pseudo code. Construct 2 is not well suited to prepare them for this.

    In Australia only the lowest upper school Computer Science course (Stage 1 ) uses "visual" programming languages like Scratch, Game Maker, Alice. Stage 2 and 3 all advise to use a "proper" language like Python, Visual Basic...

    When students get to the final exams, they don't get asked about games and other "fun" things. It's usually very traditional questions regarding processing income, tax, orders and that sort of thing.

    Personally I see C2 as a great tool to attract students to the discipline, excite them for Computing and build a foundation of what Computational thinking is. Then you can build on that.

    Scratch has a huge following with lots of resources. The resources for teaching C2 and not that good. I mean many teachers expect ready to go lesson plans, assessments, marking keys, tests and here Scratch has a much richer library.

    Building something is great but you only learn so much. To extend students and get them thinking you need to have tasks such as:

    • Fix a broken game
    • Modify an existing game to do something else
    • Find a mistake
    • Investigate a behaviour or event / action using documentation and building a demo
    • Designing their own game, writing user manual, project planning

    There aren't many resources like that available.

    Scratch has some similar alternatives out there such as Blocky. It is very similar to Scratch and also used for App Inventor 2 for making Android Phone Apps.

    One big negative for me is the difficulty in exporting games to mobile devices. It's not easy enough for students and they can't just save the game onto a USB and play it. So the "seeing it work" argument isn't one as students quickly give up on things they like to do such as sharing their games with friends, family.

    But, seeing it is your research paper, I throw some tasks at you:

    • Create a C2 project that demonstrates a nested selection (nested if statement) and do the same in Scratch.
    • Use C2 to teach the concept of a procedures with passing a parameter
    • Use C2 to teach the difference between FOR, Repeat until and While loop
  • Thank you for the detailed answer. Now I see more clearly what is the main difference between C2 and Scratch in education. As soon as I have time, I'll look into the tasks you gave me.

    In our country there are several methods for teaching programming to students, ranging from a usual programming language (like C++) to tools (like Scratch). These are more or less fine ways of teaching the logic, but we have 2 big problems and I'm trying to solve these with C2 (I hope it'll work):

    • The students doesn't like or doesn't want to program because they don't like what they're doing. This problem could be solved already with Scratch.
    • The students won't use programming in the future. I'm not talking about the specialized, computer classes, but about the regular students. I want to teach them with a tool that they don't necessarily have to leave behind to make something serious. C2 is just this tool.
  • Oh don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of C2 and use it in all year levels. Especially during year 7 and 8 when everyone does Computing. In later years they actually choose it and you have more students who are actually interested in Computing.

    It also makes students promote your subject. Often Computer teachers struggle with having enough students for their classes and need to make it fun. Having other students play games of students spreads the word and many students become interested. It would even better if it was easier to get games onto phones and tablets. I admit I only just recently got a very cheap tablet (Pendo Pad) for testing and found that there are way to many steps to get a game onto your tablet. It really needs to export into something you can just copy via USB/

    App Inventor 2 does this, you export into an APK file and copy that onto the phone and install it.

    But maybe there is an easier way, I haven't looked into this a lot.

    There are also other areas you can branch out to. Especially creating assets which is great for teachers with good media or art skills. My art skills are shocking so we use sprites from C2 and create sound effects with sfxr. I haven't found something easy to do music yet though...

    To avoid students getting a false sense of programming I always also teach them Scratch (and Logo) so that they see other programming languages. I tell them that Scratch is what they will need to master when they do Computer Science in upper school. By then most are very comfortable with it and they are able to do decent programs with selection and iteration. Projects we do for example are: age checker, password checker, pay calculator, tax calculator, times table quiz generator...

    So in a way the closer you get to graduation the "less fun" Computing becomes. In the early years there is a lot more "fund" so to speak

  • I haven't found something easy to do music yet though...

    Did you try cgMusic? It's a free program, that let's you generate music based on the setting you provide.

    You can find it here: http://codeminion.com/blogs/maciek/2008 ... ate-music/

    To avoid students getting a false sense of programming I always also teach them Scratch (and Logo) so that they see other programming languages.

    Can you tell me the ratio about your teaching with C2 and Scratch? Do you teach them around 50-50 percent, or do you prefer one more over the other?

  • I would say I spend around the same amount of time on each of them. In upper school we only do Scratch however because this is what the curriculum dictates. Here I use C2 for "filler" lessons towards the end of term before holidays for example.

  • So you don't recommend teaching C2 in high schools (speaking in general and not looking at the curriculum)?

    I've looked into the tasks you gave me a few posts earlier:

    - Create a C2 project that demonstrates a nested selection (nested if statement) and do the same in Scratch.

    - Use C2 to teach the concept of a procedures with passing a parameter

    - Use C2 to teach the difference between FOR, Repeat until and While loop

    • Nested selection: Isn't that what sub-events do?
    • You can create procedures with the function object easily and add parameters and a return value too.
    • I guess it shouldn't be hard to create tasks to demonstrate the difference between the 3 loop types you mentioned (although the FOR vs Repeat can be interesting for students).
  • In general, if I'd teach programming fundamentals, I would not use C2.

    Have a go at creating the tasks in C2 vs. Scratch and tell me which one you find more suitable for teaching.

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