Evaluating the effectiveness of game-based learning on improvement of student learning outcomes within a sophomore level chemical product design class

Cheryl A. Bodnar, William M. Bongiorni, Renee Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, several studies have been published that have shown the need for greater student engagement within engineering education. These studies indicate that when students are exposed to pedagogies that stimulate student engagement, such as active learning, student performance is better than with more traditional forms of instruction. One form of active learning that is starting to grow within engineering education is the use of games and gamification. In the spring of 2014, we were able to compare two sections of a sophomore Introduction to Chemical Product Design class to determine the effectiveness of game-based learning on student learning outcomes. The first section received content delivered utilizing active learning techniques. The second section received content utilizing the same form of delivery but included classroom based games and a game-based portal for homework assignments. Each section was evaluated in the same manner, and the instruction in each section was provided by the same two faculty members. Throughout the course, students completed clicker questions on class content, and at the end, they reviewed content in a class session administered using the clickers. Students were also responsible for completing a semester design project that included both a written and oral component. Analysis of the clicker responses demonstrated that the students in the game-based class performed statistically similar to or better than those in the control group throughout the semester. In the last class review session, retention of material appears to have been better in the game-based class, where several learning objectives demonstrated a significantly higher outcome. Student performance on the semester design project also exhibited similar trends. As the sample sizes are relatively small in this study, the results are preliminary but do demonstrate a trend towards enhanced learning outcomes when content is delivered utilizing game-based pedagogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-456
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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