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Effectiveness of Gamification Activities in a Project-based Learning Classroom

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Investigating Instructional Strategies

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Eleanor Leung Minnesota State University Mankato, Iron Range Engineering

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Dr. Eleanor Leung is an assistant professor with the Iron Range Engineering (IRE) program which is part of Minnesota State University, Mankato. She joined IRE in August 2016 and is the electrical engineering faculty member who leads competencies in the areas of electric machines, signals and systems, three phase systems and controls systems. Her research area is in wireless communications focusing on space-time block coding and the design of signal constellations. She has a B.S in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calgary and both a M.Eng and a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from McMaster University.

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Elizabeth Pluskwik Minnesota State University, Mankato / Iron Range Engineering

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Elizabeth leads the Engineering Management and Statistics competencies at Iron Range Engineering, an ABET-accredited project-based engineering education program in Minnesota. She enjoys helping student engineers develop entrepreneurial mindsets through active and collaborative learning in the classroom, on project design teams, and while out on co-op work. Her prior education and work experience were in business and accounting, and her Ph.D. in Organization and Management is from Capella University, Minneapolis. She recently gained Six Sigma and Lean certifications. Elizabeth and her husband have a photography business and spend time outdoors with their cameras photographing community events, people, and places in the natural beauty of northern Minnesota.

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The purpose of this research is to analyze the effectiveness, and student's self-reported engagement with gamification tools on a student's learning of technical concepts when used in a project-based learning (PBL) engineering classroom environment. Gamification, as defined in this study, is the use of game-based elements such as online audience response systems with automated feedback in non-game situations. By adding gamification to the classroom, we hope to further build on the active and collaborative learning environment that our PBL program already provides. Five gamification activities were implemented during the Fall 2017 semester with junior and senior student engineers enrolled in Iron Range Engineering, a program of Minnesota State University, Mankato. The Iron Range Engineering (IRE) model is a project-based-learning program in which students work closely with industry on design projects throughout their 3rd and 4th years. The goal of this program’s approach is to prepare and produce graduates with significant integrated technical and professional knowledge and skills to enter the engineering workforce. The three game-based online platforms along with two hands-on activities were used in six technical courses: Signals & Systems, Engineering Economics, Statistics, Linear Control Systems, Lean Principles, and Electric Machines. All five gamification tools allowed for real-time assessment, so students were given instant feedback from the game on their level of understanding of a technical concept. The in-class gaming activities were used in approximately five instances within the six courses; with about 8 - 12 participants in each class (n is approx 300 student gaming interaction instances). Feedback was collected via student surveys, student and faculty reflections and data received automatically by the game programs. Preliminary analysis of student feedback and faculty reflections indicates increased learner motivation, enhanced review of technical content and an upbeat atmosphere to the classroom. Faculty reflections also noted that the use of games that allow learners to answer the questions individually helped faculty identify those students who had successfully mastered the concepts, which allowed the instructor to structure peer-to-peer active learning opportunities during class more effectively. Future work includes analyzing test scores, and other measures of long-term retention of concepts. Overall, use of these gamification tools was found to be a significant addition to the project-based learning environment at Iron Range Engineering, bringing value to the overall learning process and will continue to be used to improve our teaching and student learning.

Leung, E., & Pluskwik, E. (2018, June), Effectiveness of Gamification Activities in a Project-based Learning Classroom Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30361

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