Dr. Mariana Rocha is an Assistant Lecturer at the School of Computer Science, Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin). She obtained a PhD in Computer Science by TU Dublin and a Master’s degree in science by the Oswald Cruz Foundation (Brazil).
Back in Brazil, Mariana worked for a STEM education platform producing articles, games and videos for primary school children. That motivated her to pursue a master’s degree and evaluate the potential of online platforms for primary school education. During her PhD, she decided to go further and developed an educational videogame to support mathematics learning in primary school. Mariana designed and implemented “Once Upon a Maths”, an adventure videogame with a narrative based on the history of mathematics. The game was evaluated by almost a hundred students from Irish schools and proved to be efficient in supporting their learning.
Mariana is part of a research group that develops and evaluate the potential of educational video games to support learning and reduce mathematics anxiety in primary school children. Pupils with this condition tend to feel scared of mathematics. This can be very debilitating, especially for school-age children. Currently, they are studying how different elements of educational games can help students to overcome maths anxiety. They aim to use machine learning to make the games more adaptive to the player. The idea is to provide a unique playing environment where the child feels comfortable and learns better. The research group got financial support from the hosting university and other organizations. During the pandemic crisis, organizations such as Kildare County Council Library and Arts service invested in the online activities to support primary school children’s remote learning.
Mariana is currently one of the leaders of the Junior Network Researchers in Serious Games. The network supports PhD students and post-doc researchers that work on the development of studies about educational and serious games. This network is composed by members from countries such as Finland, United Kingdom and Brazil.