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Assessment Of Shortfall: A Board Game On Environmental Decisionmaking

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Manufacturing Education Innovation and Assessment

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.253.1 - 11.253.10



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Paper Authors


Donna Qualters Northeastern University

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DONNA M. QUALTERS is an Associate Professor in the School of Education and the Director of the Center for Effective University Teaching at
Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She is responsible for supporting excellence in teaching for faculty and graduate teaching assistants at NU. Her research focuses on learning/teaching, educational assessment, and teacher identity.

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Jacqueline Isaacs Northeastern University

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JACQUELINE A. ISAACS is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. Her research focuses on economic and environmental assessment of manufacturing. Initial development of Shortfall resulted from her CAREER grant funded by the National Science Foundation (DMI-9734054), and subsequent NSF funding (DMI-0537056) to continue its development.

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Thomas Cullinane Northeastern University

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THOMAS P. CULLINANE received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has been a member of the Northeastern University faculty since 1981 and is currently Director of the Engineering Management Program. He has been an ASEE member since 1975 and is a former director of the industrial engineering division.

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Ann McDonald Northeastern University

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ANN McDONALD is an Associate Academic Specialist in Graphic Design and Multimedia Studies. Her research focuses on creating and studying educational interactive projects that can best be achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration. Her exhibit and interactive design work for clients such as The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The New England Aquarium, and The National Health Sciences Consortium have offered wide audiences access to complex topics.

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Jay Laird Metaversal Studios

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JAY T. LAIRD is a full-time Lecturer in the undergraduate and graduate Multimedia Studies programs at Northeastern University. He is also the founder and Lead Game Designer of Metaversal Studios, a Boston-based company specializing in educational game design that frequently collaborates with Northeastern University. Past work has included game development for MIT, the New England Aquarium, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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Assessment of Shortfall: A Board Game on Environmental Decisionmaking Abstract

Significant disparities in the learning styles of millennial students (students born after 1980) and those of their instructors have been documented. Shortfall is a board game designed to raise awareness of the concept of environmental decisionmaking in the supply chain. The project explores the hypothesis that millennial engineering students approach learning in a communal, active manner using trial and error approaches. Results of this pilot exploratory project suggest that engineering students are able to learn new information in a collaborative game approach, which impacts their confidence and self-awareness of their knowledge base.

1. Introduction

The goal and challenge of the board game entitled Shortfall is for students to learn to maximize profit with an increased awareness of environmental impact. The objectives of the game are to foster better understanding of these issues and to encourage potential future industry leaders to make these practices part of every day planning. The auto industry represents excellent opportunities to investigate the relationships among design considerations, supply chain management, environmental issues, research and development, and profitability. The original idea for the game was developed through a MS thesis1 as part of an integrated research/ education plan for NSF supported work. Classroom exploration of the tradeoffs in the triple bottom line (economic, environmental and social performance) is most often limited to traditional lectures and descriptions of case studies. Instead of using a lecture format for green manufacturing, we tested and evaluated the potential for successful learning outcomes through participative group game play, cooperation and communication. The supply chain is simplified, but allows students to experience the ramification of materials processing decisions, i.e., technological solutions on the triple bottom line through an educational format designed to appeal to the generation labeled as millennial.

The decision to use a game methodology reflected, in part, a response to the current educational concerns around the millennial generation of students and their impact on higher education2. The differences in learning styles of the millennial student are already having an impact on learning and teaching in higher education3-5. Given the technological context in which children are raised in the U.S., the standard lecture and textbook homework assignments may not be the best method for teaching and communicating new ideas. It is our belief that this game will encourage the exploration and adoption of new, more exploratory teaching techniques. The prospect that a learning tool of this nature will encourage entrepreneurial and interdisciplinary thinking presents significant opportunities for transformation of higher education. The strategy to use well- designed, challenging games for educational purposes may lead to new methods for teaching engineering design. These types of tools can stimulate students with alternative learning styles, and thus creating a more diverse work force.

In this pilot study, we explored the following research questions: Can millennial students learn by playing multiple iterations of a board game designed to meet their learning styles? Does playing the game actually teach them anything new? Students who played a very early board-

Qualters, D., & Isaacs, J., & Cullinane, T., & McDonald, A., & Laird, J. (2006, June), Assessment Of Shortfall: A Board Game On Environmental Decisionmaking Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--713

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