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Exploring interrelationships among high school students’ engagement factors in introductory programming courses via a 3D multi-user serious game created in Open Sim

The technological affordances of three-dimensional (3D) multi-user virtual worlds and their effectiveness in task-based learning approaches are to a large extent well-established in the international field of computer literacy research. However, less attention was given to their positive or negative impact on student engagement. The current study seeks to investigate the interrelationships of students' engagement among multidimensional constructs consisting of cognitive, emotional and behavioral factors in order to understand better the educational community the learning effectiveness emerged through a 3D computer-supported and multi-user serious game created for introductory programming courses. An instructional design framework based on Papert's theory of Constructionism to be amplified the students' activities and management of their interactions in a 3D multi-user serious game created via an Open Sim standalone server integrated with Scratch4OS is also proposed. Fifty-five (n=55) voluntary students from three different high schools participated and experienced in a 3D mind-trap puzzle game named Co.Co.I.A. (Collaborative Construction of Interactive Artifacts) to learn basic programming structures. The empirical study findings indicated that student behavioral engagement (attention, retention and energy expenditure for activity completion) had not only a linear correlation with cognitive engagement (learning strategies for the construction of the knowledge domain), but it had also a positive association with emotional engagement (students' positive emotions and achievement orientation) in collaborative learning tasks, causing the reinforcement of the other two factors as well.