Teaching systems thinking through game design

  • Mete AkcaogluEmail author
  • Lucy Santos Green
Research Article


In this mixed-methods study, we examined if students benefitted from a game design course offered during an enrichment hour in terms of gains in their system analysis and design skills. Students at a rural middle school in Southeast US (n = 19) attended a 1-hour game design course offered weekly during an academic enrichment class period, for the duration of a school year, learning basics of digital game-design and practicing system design skills such as making flowcharts. The results of quasi-experimental data indicated that the treatment group’s pretest–posttest system analysis and design skills, compared to the control group, which did not receive any training, further improved, F(1,33) = 16.516, p < 0.001. Results from the interviews showed that the participants were able to verbalize how they applied system analysis and design skills developed during the course to problem-solving in different contexts. We discussed the instructional aspects of learning game-design that align with systems thinking. We also explored the possible influence of initial cognitive skills on student learning outcomes from such interventions.


Game design Problem solving Systems thinking System design Design 



We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Dr. Tarcin for sharing his pearls of wisdom and unwavering support with us during the course of this research.

Compliance with ethical standard

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA
  2. 2.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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