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Title: Exploring perspectives and experiences of diverse learners' acceptance of online educational engineering games as learning tools in the classroom
This Research Full paper focuses on perceptions and experiences of freshman and sophomore engineering students when playing an online serious engineering game that was designed to improve engineering intuition and knowledge of statics. Use of serious educational engineering games has increased in engineering education to help students increase technical competencies in engineering disciplines. However, few have investigated how these engineering games are experienced by the students; how games influence students' perceptions of learning, or how these factors may lead to inequitable perspectives among diverse populations of students. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions, appeal, and opinions about the efficacy of educational online games among a diverse population of students in an engineering mechanics statics course. It was hypothesized that compared to majority groups (e.g., men, White), women of color who are engineering students would experience less connections to the online educational game in terms of ease of use and level of frustration while playing. It is believed that these discordant views may negatively influence the game's appeal and efficacy towards learning engineering in this population of students. Design/Method: The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) is expanded in this study, where the perspectives of women of colour more » (Latinx, Asian and African American) engineering students are explored. The research approach employed in this study is a mixed-method sequential exploratory design, where students first played the online engineering educational game, then completed a questionnaire, followed by participation in a focus group. Responses were initially analyzed through open and magnitude coding approaches to understand whether students thought these educational games reflected their personal culture. Results: Preliminary results indicate that though the majority of the students were receptive to using the online engineering software for their engineering education, merely a few intimated that they would use this software for engineering exam or technical job interview preparation. A level-one categorical analysis identified a few themes that comprised unintended preservation of inequality in favor of students who enjoyed contest-based education and game technology. Competition-based valuation of presumed mastery of course content fostered anxiety and intimidation among students, which caused some to "game the game" instead of studying the material, to meet grade goals. Some students indicated that they spent more time (than necessary) to learn the goals of the game than engineering content itself, suggesting a need to better integrate course material while minimizing cognitive effort in learning to navigate the game. Conclusions: Preliminary results indicate that engineering software's design and the way is coupled with course grading and assessment of learning outcomes, affect student perceptions of the technology's acceptance, usefulness, and ease of use as a "learning tool." Students were found to have different expectations of serious games juxtaposed software/apps designed for entertainment. Conclusions also indicate that acceptance of inquiry-based educational games in a classroom among diverse populations of students should clearly articulate and connect the game goals/objectives with class curriculum content. Findings also indicate that a multifaceted schema of tools, such as feedback on game challenges, and explanations for predictions of the game should be included in game/app designs. « less
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Conference proceedings Frontiers in Education Conference
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National Science Foundation
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