Build It Better: A Serious Game for Construction-based Learners

Maher, Lauren, Ferns, Shaun, Smith, Matt and Keyes, Mark (2021) Build It Better: A Serious Game for Construction-based Learners.


Serious games and ‘game-based learning’ have increased in popularity as teaching methods and are used in many primary/post-primary schools, universities, and industries (Djaouti et al., 2011). In particular serious games that include simulations, virtual environments and mixed reality/media afford opportunities in creating a learning experience through the meaningful use of transmedia storytelling and/or gameplay (Alvarez et al., 2011). Many studies and experiments have been carried out in order to test whether serious games have made it possible to play and learn simultaneously (De Gloria et al,. 2014). This presentation will offer an overview of a study which designed, developed and evaluated a serious game prototype with construction-based learners, to discover the effectiveness of serious games as an educational tool. Existing construction worker training materials provided the context for the development of a bespoke serious game with a particular focus on ‘system thinking’ and attitudinal change (Keyes, 2012). In addition, the research explored the opportunities provided by serious games with a view to tailoring the development of resources to align with the learning characteristics of a typical construction worker. The serious game was designed and developed using an iterative design process developed as part of this study. The serious game was analysed using a mixed methods approach, including questionnaires, participant interviews and an in-game application which allowed for the collection of user-interaction data during gameplay. Results of this research show that nineteen out of twenty participants have shown an increased knowledge of low-energy training. Additionally, each participant indicated that they had changed their attitude on their approach to ‘system thinking’ and this has an impact on the construction of low energy buildings. In conclusion this study demonstrates that serious games are an effective tool to teach construction-based learners and may be beneficial in affecting learner attitudinal change.

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