The transportability of a game-based learning approach to undergraduate mechanical engineering education: Effects on student conceptual understanding, engagement, and experience

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Sustainability (Switzerland)



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Many game-based instructional designs have demonstrated effectiveness for a variety of educational outcomes, although typically in limited contexts. In this article, we report the results of a four-year study testing the extent to which a game-based learning approach to undergraduate engineering education demonstrating promising results in a university course was transportable to other engineering courses and universities. We evaluated students' conceptual understanding, emotional engagement (with the Experience Sampling Method), and experience when using the video game, Spumone, for their coursework compared to a textbook-based control condition. Multilevel models and other quantitative analyses showed that the effect of the experimental condition (i.e., game-based) on conceptual understanding and student engagement was not significant. Based on a content analysis of students' feedback, however, the students reported a positive experience with game-based learning for their assignments overall. Areas of need towards successful implementation of the game-based learning intervention were also examined. This study has important implications for the salience of implementation issues including adequate training and continuing teacher professional development, and ongoing supports for instructors and students to aid in the learning of concepts that the game was intended to teach.

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Computer-based learning, Conceptual understanding, Experience Sampling Method, Game-based learning, Intervention, Mechanical engineering, Student engagement, Student experience, Undergraduate education, Video games


Department of Mechanical Engineering