Gamifying Sustainable Engineering Courses: Student and Instructor Perspectives of Community, Engagement, Learning, and Retention

Renee Clark, Abra Spisso, Kevin J. Ketchman, Amy E. Landis, Kristen Parrish, Rezvan Mohammadiziazi, Melissa M. Bilec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Recruitment, retention, and preparation of students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are critical to meeting the global challenges of the 21st century. Gamification - game playing concepts used in another activity - has been postulated as an active teaching strategy that engages students, encourages a sense of community, and develops students' professional skills, which are all core components to recruitment, retention, and preparation. To explore the impact of game design and play on students' higher levels of perceived cognitive/learning engineering-related and course-specific concepts, higher levels of student engagement, a sense of community, professional skills, retention, and easy transferability for university-level educators, board game design and play projects were implemented in three civil, environmental, and construction engineering courses at the University of Pittsburgh, Arizona State University, and Clemson University in 2016. Findings obtained from analyzing students' responses to an open-ended survey and focus group questions indicated that game design and play were effective in learning technical course content, including content related to sustainability and construction terminology, but these results were related to lower levels of Bloom's taxonomy. Both the classroom observations and the focus group/interviews revealed that game design and game play enhanced engagement. The Likert survey results did not show a statistically significant difference in the sense of community but did show a statistically significant positive difference in the professional skill of writing. Lastly, neither the Likert survey results nor the focus group/interview results showed that game design and play impacted retention. Given these results, the findings of this study are cautiously optimistic at best for the applications of game design and play in engineering curricula as a method for recruiting, retaining, and preparing students. Recommendations for improving game design studies as well as the implementation of game design projects in engineering courses are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04021009
JournalJournal of Civil Engineering Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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