Document Type


Publication Date

January 2014

Publication Title

Frontiers in Education Conference, 2014 IEEE


Engineering students need complex skills to be effective in college and post-graduate employment. Beyond technical skills, the ability to integrate varied types of information is essential for competence in applying engineered solutions to real-life situations. While research shows that project-based learning favorably affects engineering student success and retention as well as recruitment of diverse populations to STEM, it is challenging to find ways to incorporate projects during the first two years, where in the U.S. general education requirements typically precede major course work. As a work in progress, we report on the first phase of an experiment at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) using a sophomore-level humanities course to teach information literacy. Students develop a pedagogical role-play game to explore a historical situation simulating engineered solutions. The game offers the advantages of project-based learning within a traditionally framed classroom environment, and before students address complex engineering problems within their major areas of study. To assess the effectiveness of our educational approach we reviewed the quality and type of sources located by students and completed a textual analysis of students’ reflective essays. Through game development, students effectively located information, and saw value in the research skills they gained.