Comparison of game-based learning and traditional lecture approaches to improve student engagement and knowledge transfer in STEM education

Nathan C. Rice, Ashu Guru, Caprianna N. Keeler, Deepak R. Keshwani, Jennifer Keshwani

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In the modern educational system, educators are constantly striving to increase student engagement. Improving student engagement leads to an increase in learning motivation, ultimately enhancing students' ability to grasp complex topic areas. A common strategy to achieve higher engagement levels in the classroom is game-based learning (GBL). GBL has received mixed reviews due to a lack of data comparison and the difficulty of balancing entertainment with educational value. The objective of this study was to investigate how student knowledge transfer compares between a GBL activity and a traditional classroom lecture within STEM education. The GBL activity developed for the study was a cooperative board game called Preservation. During the game, players worked together to mitigate a tide of environmental threats related to the corn-water-ethanol-beef system in the Midwest. The primary learning outcomes measured during the study were student attitudes towards the environment and their capacity for systems thinking. Students in two junior level undergraduate courses completed pre-post-surveys after experiencing one of three treatments: group one - played Preservation, and group two - played Preservation with supporting lecture. Assessment focused on changes in student attitudes and overall understanding of system interactions. Initial findings suggest that the combination treatment provided the greatest change in systems thinking, however, no change occurred with respect to environmental attitudes. The results of this study will be used to direct the development of subsequent games and hands-on activities to promote transformational learning strategies in STEM education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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