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Classroom-based Games for Student Learning and Engagement

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Environmental Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

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Paper Authors


Shannon L. Isovitsch Parks P.E. University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

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Dr. Shannon Parks is a registered Professional Engineer with over 20 years of broad-based experience in the water resources and environmental engineering fields. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University and a Masters of Science and doctoral degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She is currently teaching water resources and environmental engineering at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

Prior to joining University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Dr. Parks’ worked for over seven years at the Alcoa Technical Center focusing on development and commercialization of sustainable wastewater treatment and solid waste reuse technologies. She also served as a member of the Alcoa Foundation Board of Directors, providing environmental expertise to support the Foundation’s focus areas of Environment, Empowerment, and Education, as well as her experience with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for women. Prior to joining Alcoa in 2008, Dr. Parks worked for approximately seven years as a consultant to government agencies, municipalities, and industrial clients performing water resources engineering design and permitting. In addition to her corporate experience, Dr. Parks served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa, supporting a local Non-Governmental Organization on water sanitation projects.

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It is now generally accepted that active learning methods can help students learn material at a deeper level, and that students enjoy game-based learning. However, most game-based learning research has focused more on engagement benefits rather than learning, and many lack comparison groups and details on procedures and assessment techniques. Research on classroom-based games is most lacking in learning effectiveness studies compared to digital games and gamification research. However, non-digital games offer many of the same advantages as digital games and may be more accessible. This paper focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of simple classroom-based games to enhance engagement and learning. The evaluation is conducted with two (2) sections of an undergraduate, Introduction to Environmental Engineering course - one section acting as the control with no game-based learning, and the other as the experimental section utilizing game-based learning strategies. The games utilized were ‘Heads Up’, ‘Taboo’, ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’, and ‘Two Truths and a Lie’, and could be tailored to almost any topic. Assessment techniques include student-based surveys, pre- and post-tests, intervention vs. comparison group statistical analysis, and course evaluations. In this way, technical skills building, as well as attitude and perceptions are evaluated. Results indicate that while similar learning was achieved with the games vs traditional lecture, students’ perception was that the games were not worthwhile in replacing lecture. Details on the games and assessment techniques are included, to allow others to easily adapt this work.

Parks, S. L. I. (2019, June), Classroom-based Games for Student Learning and Engagement Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32510

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