Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Boyer, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. John Leininger

Committee Member

Dr. Lisa Benson

Committee Member

Dr. Sean Williams


Game-based learning is a novel approach for teaching a studio design course, especially in engineering. As a field, engineering is innovative by nature but has a strong emphasis on thinking in a logical, analytical, organized, and structured way. This way of thinking serves graduates well, but professional engineers also need to be able to think creatively, problem solve, and work well with a team (ABET, 2014; Felder, 1996; Herrmann, 1995; Lumsdaine & Lumsdaine, 1995; Shuman, Besterfield-Sacre, & McGourty, 2005; Walesh, 2012).

This study compared two sections of a Bioengineering Senior Design course. The control section was taught primarily with seventy-five minute lectures. The intervention used a flipped classroom approach. Students consumed the course content prior to coming to class through readings, lecture notes, and videos. The seventy-five-minute classroom time was used to emphasize domain content and develop 21st Century Skills through games and activities. The intervention was developed using the Cognitive Apprenticeship framework (Collins & Kapur, 2014; Mitterer & John, 2006; Pieters & de Bruijn, 1992; Stalmeijer, 2015). In this framework, learning is focused on understanding how an expert in the field thinks about their tasks and teaching students how to replicate and apply those thought processes.

Three research questions were investigated for this study. We wanted to understand what effect, if any, the delivery method had on student learning in two areas: the domain content and 21st Century Skills. In addition, this study examined the process a faculty-team undergoes converting and delivering a game-based course. Collection and analysis of the data used an embedded mixed methods approach (Creswell, 2013). Results did not conclusively indicate that game-based learning was a more effective method for teaching the course as students from both sections demonstrated acceptable levels of domain content learning. Analysis of the survey data suggested that control students had a higher self-efficacy regarding the entrepreneurship. However, the qualitative data indicated that the intervention section showed higher levels of 21st Century Skills. Directions for future research include looking at the balance of passive and active learning, modifying the terms used in the survey instrument, and adjusting the number of students in each class to promote better engagement with the games.


Additional materials:

Link to YouTube channel (24 videos):

Link to Open Educational resources:

Link to final website:



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