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Serious Games to Improve Student Learning in Engineering Classes

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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

Computers and Learning

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1063.1 - 23.1063.15



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Paper Authors


Pramod Rajan Laboratory for Innovative Technology & Engineering Education (LITEE)

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Pramod Rajan is in the doctoral program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University. He is a graduate research and teaching assistant. Rajan is currently working on developing serious games to improve student learning in engineering classes.

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P.K. Raju Auburn University

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Dr. Raju is the Thomas Walter Distinguished professor of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University. He is the co-founder and director of the NSF-funded Laboratory for Innovative Technology and Engineering Education (LITEE). LITEE has been recently recognized by the National Academy of Engineering as one of the twenty nine programs in the country that have successfully infused real world experiences into engineering undergraduate education. He is also the founder and director of the Auburn Engineering Technical Assistance Program (AETAP).
Prior to coming to Auburn in 1984, Dr. Raju held faculty positions in several universities in India and visiting positions at the Catholic University of America, Purdue University, and the Technical University of Berlin. Dr. Raju received his Ph.D. from the Indian institute of Technology, Madras, in 1977. He has made significant research contributions in engineering education and innovations, acoustics, noise control, nondestructive evaluation and technology transfer, resulting in award-winning and significant breakthroughs. He has received a total of $12 million in funding, including grants from industries, the United Nations, the National Science Foundation, NIST, NIH, EDA and other U.S. and international agencies. He has published 24 books, eight book chapters and 200 papers in journals and conference proceedings. He has received several awards for his teaching, research and outreach work from INEER, NASA, NSF, ASME, ASEE, Auburn University and others. He served as an United Nations and UNDP expert.
Dr. Raju served as a World Bank lecturer at the National Aeronautical Laboratory, and the Bharat Earth Movers Ltd. Bangalore, India and the National Institutes of Technology, Trichy and Calicut. He has held Invited Professorships at the Université Bordeaux I, Talence, and Université Du Havre, Le Harve, France. He has been an invited/ keynote speaker at several national and international conferences. He is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education, a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a fellow of the Institution of Engineers (India), and a fellow of the Acoustical Society of India. He is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research.

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Chetan S Sankar Auburn University College of Engineering

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Dr. Chetan S. Sankar is the College of Business Advisory Council Professor of Information Systems. He is a Co-Principal Investigator of four National Science Foundation grants worth more than a million dollars. The objective of these grants is to develop exceptional instructional materials that bring real-world issues into classrooms and to improve the higher-level cognitive skills of students. These instructional materials have been published and made available as nine textbooks that include multimedia CD-ROM supplements. The case studies and supplements bring alive the issues faced by Southern Company, Powertel, Chick-fil-A, AUCNET USA, and other companies into the classrooms. In addition to his current research and teaching interests, Dr. Sankar has published more than 100 papers in journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings. He has won many awards for research and teaching from the Society for Information Management, NEEDS and John Wiley and Sons, Decision Sciences Institute, American Society for Engineering Education - Southeastern Section, American Society for Mechanical Engineering, Auburn University, and the Project Management Institute.

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Serious Games to Improve Student Learning in Engineering ClassesABSTRACTExperiential Learning has been proven to be very effective in teaching engineering topics.Educational games, in particular, have the potential to address many systemic deficiencies forfive reasons: massive reach, effective learning paradigms, enhanced brain chemistry, time ontask and improved learning outcomes.1,2 Last fall, the American government awarded $10.5million to develop serious games for training purposes that result in better decision making.3About 8,000 papers were identified as describing the positive impacts of games on users over thepast 14 years. Of these, about 130 papers reported empirical evidence about impacts on learningand engagement.4 Serious games can be defined as a world where the students play simulatedevents using characters that interact with them and, in turn, make them learn a concept muchmore thoroughly than what is possible in a classroom or in a lab session.This paper describes a project where a university joined with a private company to teach theconcept of the design process in the form of a serious game. The paper provides details about thedesign and development of the serious game. The research model integrates organizational,engineering education, and educational learning literature to research how playing a seriousgame interacts with learning styles, gender and race of the participants, thereby having thepotential to act as facilitators to the learning process. We derive a set of hypothesis based on theresearch model and test them using a carefully designed experiment. The targeted student groupsfor this experiment are freshmen engineering students at two universities. The same instructortaught one section using serious games (experimental section) and another section usingtraditional lecture methodology (control section). Then, the students from both sectionsengaged in a practical design activity. The skills learned from this activity were used to build apasta tower. External evaluators used the same instruments and focus groups to collect bothquantitative and qualitative assessment data for both sections and found whether the use of theserious games led to any improvement in their learning of design skills. Analysis of the datafrom both a quantitative and qualitative perspective is expected to provide a set of findings thatwill test the hypotheses. The results of this project can contribute to understanding whetherserious games facilitate students’ deep learning about the concept of design process.Keywords: serious games, design process, research model, deep learningReferences1. Games for Scientific and Engineering Education, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 50 No.7, July 20072. Nada Dabbagh, Daniel A. Menasce (2006), Student perceptions of engineering entrepreneurship: An explanatorystudy, Journal of Engineering Education.3. Raytheon Company (2011), Thomas M. Connolly, Elizabeth A. Boyle, Ewan MacArthur, Thomas Hainey, James M. Boyle (2012),A systematicliterature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games, Computers & Education, Volume 59,Issue 2, September 2012, Pages 661-686

Rajan, P., & Raju, P., & Sankar, C. S. (2013, June), Serious Games to Improve Student Learning in Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22448

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