NSF Grant: Gamifying the Chemical Engineering Pathway

The retention of students pursuing chemical engineering degrees is essential to the future science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce, but failure in introductory coursework is a barrier to degree persistence and completion. The goal of this project is to establish effective strategies for the application of gamification in courses that appear early in the chemical engineering curriculum, supporting the retention of students in the major and the graduation of chemical engineers. This will be achieved through the development of a chemistry and chemical engineering focused dashboard that is integrated within an online learning management system that includes gamification tools (i.e., leaderboard, badges, and rewards). The results from this project will contribute to the understanding of the motivating factors afforded by gamification in chemical engineering coursework, and also provide foundational knowledge for applying gamification to courses in other STEM fields.

Despite the positive research on impact of gamification on engagement and academic achievement, only a small number of studies focus on large enrollment STEM courses, and few incorporate robust measures to rigorously and systematically assess students’ behavioral, cognitive, and affective changes. Development and testing of the dashboard will occur with three cohorts through multiple, large enrollment, undergraduate courses. In addition, a rigorous evaluation framework, that includes an advisory board of national experts, will provide formative and summative feedback on the project. Project deliverables include (1) development of a gamification dashboard, (2) evaluation of the dashboard using surveys, online data, and focus groups, and (3) dissemination of project outcomes through presentations, publications, a website, and social media. The quantitative analysis of behavioral outcomes and motivational surveys will be complemented by a rich qualitative understanding of how students made sense of the dashboard and what role the intervention may have played in their emerging identities as engineers. The novel data collection will triangulate findings to offer a detailed understanding of how student motivation and academic achievement in chemical engineering interact and are informed by the use of a chemical engineering focused gamified dashboard.

PROJECT PERIOD: 01/01/2020-12/31/2022
PI: Dr. Larysa Nadolny
Co-PIs: Michael Brown, Monica Lamm