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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Diana Bairaktarova
  • (540) 231-3645
Award Date:08/04/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 38,902
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 38,902
  • FY 2021=$38,902
Start Date:09/01/2021
End Date:08/31/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Research Initiation: Understanding of Engineering Core Concepts Contextualized in Domain-Specific Settings Through Active Exploration
Federal Award ID Number:2106261
DUNS ID:003137015
Parent DUNS ID:003137015
Program:EngEd-Engineering Education
Program Officer:
  • Jumoke Ladeji-Osias
  • (703) 292-7708

Awardee Location

Street:Sponsored Programs 0170
Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

The long history of experiential learning in engineering education shows the significant potential of cognitive development through direct experience and reflection on what works in practice. However, active exploration in a real-life situation may not be always feasible. Recent advances in computer science help educators develop virtual environments and game platforms that allow students to explore various scenarios and learn from their experiences. This project will explore students’ learning of two engineering core concepts: design of a system and optimization contextualized in domain-specific settings. Further, it will examine students’ ability to discover systematic solutions for fundamental engineering problems through active exploration in a digital game environment. An online game-based platform will be developed and used to empirically examine the effectiveness of active learning pedagogy. The game will expose users to the two engineering core concepts in the context of construction planning and scheduling through scenario-based problems. The game will be used in a graduate level construction engineering course and the final version of the game will be available for free to download and to play to anyone in the world through a dedicated website and app stores. The outcomes of the project and the game-based platform can be used in outreach programs to engage and inspire underrepresented and K-12 students in pursuing STEM education. In addition, this project will prepare and train the PI to take a leadership role in social science research on the professional formation of engineers through a mentored, collaborative research project which will expand the community of engineering education researchers. The proposed gamified pedagogical approach will be designed based on constructivism learning theory. This research project will answer three questions: 1) Does guided active exploration in a digital game environment improve students’ understanding of two engineering core-concepts (i.e., design of a system and optimization) contextualized in domain-specific settings? 2) Does guided active exploration in a digital game environment improve students’ ability to discover systematic strategies to solve fundamental engineering problems? and 3) How do students perceive an interactive digital gamification platform that lets them explore scenario-based engineering problems as a formal learning tool? Addressing these questions will provide insights into how providing students with opportunities to explore the impact of manipulating various elements of an engineering problem can contribute to a better understanding of the engineering core concepts and discovery of systematic solutions for domain-specific engineering problems. To address the research questions, qualitative and quantitative analyses will be performed, including 1) pre- and post-assessments (e.g., prior knowledge surveys, benchmark exams, game-based assignments, and semi-structured interviews) and 2) game data, including log files and electronic records of students’ inputs in the debriefing and articulation features. This research project will create and examine an innovative engineering education method that can be adapted to other engineering fields and education levels, including undergraduate and high school programs. Although the research uses construction engineering as a study setting, its outcomes will contribute to other engineering fields and it will add to the cutting-edge state of practice in learning at scale. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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