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Motivating First-Year Engineering Students through Gamified Homework

Cheryl Bodnar

Experiential Engineering Education, Rowan University  

Friday 10/26 10:10-11:40am

Goodwin 145

Abstract: Gamification has been applied in multiple different contexts including company loyalty programs, exercise initiatives, and corporate training, as a means for increasing motivation towards specific outcomes.  Although gamification has been implemented within engineering classroom contexts previously, very little research has been completed on how gamification approaches can impact student academic motivation.  This seminar will discuss the development and local diffusion of a gamified digital homework platform for first-year engineering students.  The study uses the MUSIC Model for Academic Motivation as a conceptual framework for investigating how the gamified digital homework platform influenced student motivation. 


The first part of the seminar will focus on the action research conducted when developing the curricular content for the online gamification platform.  Over the course of the two cycles performed, researchers learned about what elements of the platform appealed to students and helped with their learning process as well as benefited their academic motivation in the class overall.  After completion of the second cycle of analysis, the researchers were able to demonstrate that students felt empowered towards learning engineering material while having the necessary support so that they could feel successful.  Students also believed the content within the platform was of interest to them and useful in their learning process.


The second part of the seminar will focus on a proposed model for effectively describing the local diffusion of educational innovations leveraging the gamified digital homework platform as a case study.  The proposed model builds upon dimensions of scale and diffusion of educational innovations theories.  This work leverages Actor Network Theory as a means for describing the interactions between key actors involved in the local diffusion process including but not limited to instructors, curriculum (built and existing), designers, administrators, and students.  A discussion of how these elements need to be considered to lead to a successful implementation will also be shared.  It is believed that this model will be useful as a guide for engineering education practitioners that are seeking to expand the reach of their local educational innovations.


Bio: Dr. Cheryl Bodnar is an Assistant Professor in the Experiential Engineering Education Department at Rowan University.  Prior to coming to Rowan she worked as a non-tenure teaching assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Chemical Engineering Department.  Her research interests relate to the incorporation of active learning techniques such as game-based learning 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 was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium in 2013, awarded the American Society for Engineering Education Educational Research Methods Faculty Apprentice Award in 2014 and the Raymond W. Fahien Award for Outstanding Teaching Effectiveness and Educational Scholarship presented by American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Chemical Engineering Division in 2017.