Demonstrating data carving concepts using jigsaw puzzles: a preliminary study

Fudong Li, Nick Savage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

99 Downloads (Pure)


According to the non-continuation rates for the 2015-2016 intake published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, almost 11 % of computer science students withdrew from universities after their first year, being the highest amongst all subject areas. The reasons for this are varied; including students’ age, health issues, the amount of study load, and financial difficulties. However, a lack of motivation has been cited as being a significant factor. Within the School of Computing at University of Portsmouth, a number of methods are being investigated to enhance the student’s learning and teaching experience in order to decrease withdrawal rates. For our BSc (Hons) Cyber Security and Forensic Computing course, students need to master various topics. One of these has been conceptually difficult to comprehend due to the high level of abstract understanding required; data carving. Within the digital forensic domain, the purpose of data carving is to reassemble files from fragments in the absence of file system metadata; those carved files could contain valuable artefacts that can be used to prove/disprove alleged offences within a forensic investigation. Although the idea of data carving seems to be simple, it does require students to have a deep understanding of how data is stored on a storage device and various file identifiers. Based upon the authors’ experience, these are difficult for students to grasp without an adequate visualisation. In order to demonstrate the data carving concept more clearly and improve the student engagement at the same time, a jigsaw puzzle game is used to demonstrate data carving concepts (i.e. reassembling pieces of an object together). During the 2017-2018 academic year, two groups of Cyber Security and Forensic Computing students were recruited to pilot the proposed idea. In total 32 students provided their feedback via a questionnaire after the jigsaw activity. 84% of the students thought that the puzzle activity helped them to understand the data carving concept; also more than four-fifths of the students claimed that they enjoyed the puzzle game.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 12th European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL18)
EditorsMelanie Ciussi
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-912764-00-6
ISBN (Print)978-1-911218-99-9
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2018
Event12th European Conference on Games Based Learning - SKEMA Business School, Sophia Antipolis, France
Duration: 4 Oct 20185 Oct 2018


Conference12th European Conference on Games Based Learning
Abbreviated titleECGBL18
CitySophia Antipolis


  • computing students
  • withdrawal rate
  • student engagement
  • game based learning
  • data carving
  • jigsaw puzzle


Dive into the research topics of 'Demonstrating data carving concepts using jigsaw puzzles: a preliminary study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this