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Student Perceptions of Engineering Based Upon Board Game Participation

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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

Middle School Students' Engineering Identity, Efficacy, Attitudes, and Perceptions

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Alexis Basantis Rowan University Orcid 16x16

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Alexis graduated from Rowan University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Biological Sciences. While there, she dedicated her time to performing engineering outreach and research surrounding the gender gap in STEM. Currently, she is pursuing a M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her research is centered around studying human factors and safety in transportation at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

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Megan DiPietroantonio

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Amy B. Geary Rowan University

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Melanie V. Ware Rowan University


Kaitlin Mallouk Rowan University Orcid 16x16

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Kaitlin Mallouk has been an Instructor in the Mechanical Engineering and Experiential Engineering Education (ExEEd) Departments at Rowan University since 2013. In September 2018, she will become an Assistant Professor in ExEEd. Kaitlin has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and an MS and PhD in Environmental Engineering in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois.

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Cheryl A. Bodnar Rowan University

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Cheryl A. Bodnar, Ph.D., CTDP is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Experiential Engineering Education at Rowan University. Dr. Bodnar’s research interests relate to the incorporation of active learning techniques in undergraduate classes as well as integration of innovation and entrepreneurship into the engineering curriculum. In particular, she is interested in the impact that these tools can have on student perception of the classroom environment, motivation and learning outcomes. She obtained her certification as a Training and Development Professional (CTDP) from the Canadian Society for Training and Development (CSTD) in 2010, providing her with a solid background in instructional design, facilitation and evaluation. She was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium in 2013 and awarded the American Society for Engineering Education Educational Research Methods Faculty Apprentice Award in 2014.

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The current undergraduate populations within engineering institutions are not an accurate representation of the general population and, as such, we are missing perspectives that would benefit the overall progression of the field. One of the reasons for the narrowing engineering pipeline is the infrequent exposure to engineering and engineering related principles during formative middle school years. These years are known to be a critical time to attract students into STEM fields; if students do not choose courses appropriately at this time, they could find themselves at a disadvantage for pursuing STEM careers later in their lives.

One possible explanation for the lack of exposure to engineering and related principles is that teachers do not have the necessary training to feel comfortable teaching technical material and may not have techniques for presenting it in an engaging manner. Male and female students also learn STEM related content differently which can increase the difficulty in presenting these materials to students. One method that could be used to assist with introducing engineering to middle school students is applying game-based approaches. Game-based learning has been shown to have neutral to positive outcomes on its ability to convey technical engineering content to undergraduate engineering students and has had great success within both middle and high schools. It has also been found to be overwhelmingly useful for engaging students in the learning experience.

This study sought to determine the impact of a newly developed board game for exposing middle school students to engineering content. More specifically, the study asked whether game-based learning is an effective means of introducing engineering to middle school students. A group of undergraduate engineering students, representing diverse disciplines, developed a new board game called “A Tour Through Four”. The board game provided background on four key disciplines within engineering (mechanical, chemical, electrical and civil) while providing students with informative facts on the roles that women have served as engineers. Game play consisted of responding to trivia questions as well as completing hands-on kinesthetic challenges.

To determine the effectiveness of the board game for introducing engineering principles, middle school students (n=20) participating in an after school program were provided the opportunity to play the new board game. After the game was completed, students were provided with an open-ended feedback form to complete. Researchers performed a content analysis of the student responses to the question “Recall something you have learned or something that stood out to you while playing this game. Did anything you have learned or experienced change your view of engineering?” as it most closely related to their proposed research question. Reliability analysis of the coded responses showed strong agreement above chance with Cohen’s Kappa values greater than 0.750. Three themes were identified in the data collected (1) engineering principles, (2) women in engineering and (3) career pathways. The results show promise that the board game developed can create a positive exposure to engineering and its career potential for middle school students.

Basantis, A., & DiPietroantonio, M., & Geary, A. B., & Ware, M. V., & Mallouk, K., & Bodnar, C. A. (2018, June), Student Perceptions of Engineering Based Upon Board Game Participation Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31011

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