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Improving Student Attitudes Toward the Capstone Laboratory Course Using Gamification

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Real and Virtual - "New" Approaches to Teaching "Old" Courses

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.718.1 - 23.718.18



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Paper Authors


Daniel D. Burkey University of Connecticut

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Daniel Burkey is the associate head of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department at the University of Connecticut. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University in 1998, and his M.S.C.E.P. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000 and 2003, respectively. His primary areas of interest are chemical vapor deposition and engineering pedagogy.

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Daniel D. Anastasio University of Connecticut

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Daniel Anastasio received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2009. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Connecticut while acting as an instructional specialist for the chemical engineering undergraduate laboratory. His research interests include osmotically driven membrane separations and engineering pedagogy.

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Aravind Suresh University of Connecticut

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Introduction of Gamification Elements into a Chemical Engineering Laboratory CourseGamification, or the introduction of game-like mechanics into non-game contexts, has receivedincreasing attention recently, largely for its perceived ability to motivate participants into desiredcourses of action by making mandatory or mundane tasks rewarding in some way. Examples ofthis in the business world include frequent flyer reward programs, social programs such asFourSquare or Facebook Check In, and app-type gamification of to-do lists, weight-lossprograms, or exercise programs.Application of gamification to education is a logical extension, as it has the potential to motivatestudents to perform extra learning tasks that they might not otherwise do by couching those tasksin the larger context of a game, or by providing small but tangible non-grade rewards for theircompletion. To study this phenomenon, we chose to overlay a collaborative team-based gamecontext over the traditional senior capstone chemical engineering laboratory course. As alaboratory course, the structure is such that students are naturally clustered into teams workingon different experiments. This allowed us to easily divide the students into teams (‘guilds’ in ourexample) that were united by a common purpose – completing their major experiment. Bycompleting required tasks such as lab reports and presentations, students earned XP (experiencepoints), which translated directly into a traditional grade. In addition, other, optional tasks wereadded that could earn a student additional XP (effectively extra credit), but also another resource,called Reputation. While reputation did not affect a student’s grade directly, by workingcollectively with other students in their guild, students could pool Reputation to effectively ‘win’the game. In this context, the guild with the most reputation at the end of the semester wasallowed to choose from several rewards (dinner out with the faculty, the ability to choose anexperiment the following semester, a small boost to one of their best grades, etc.). Optional taskswere ones that the instructors thought would benefit the students, but in practice, withoutincentivization, few students attempted. Examples include peer evaluation of their work, seekingout and using external references in their writing, and performing data analysis during the courseof the experiment and using that information to modify their experimental plan.Both pre- and post-course surveys were carried out, which collected data on the students’experience with a multitude of game types, as well as their personal habits. Additionally, theirattitude and perceptions about gamification and our particular implementation were surveyedboth prior to the start of the class and after the semester ended to compare differences. This paperwill discuss the specific implementation of the gamification process as applied to the laboratorycourse, as well as make a determination as to its future course based on the outcome of thestudent surveys and level of participation. (For consideration as a paper).

Burkey, D. D., & Anastasio, D. D., & Suresh, A. (2013, June), Improving Student Attitudes Toward the Capstone Laboratory Course Using Gamification Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19732

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