Implementing and Assessing a Game-Based Module in Geotechnical Engineering Education

Victoria G. Bennett, Casper Harteveld, Tarek Abdoun, Usama El Shamy, Flora Mcmartin, Binod Tiwari, Anirban De

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The GeoExplorer project is an ongoing effort aimed at addressing educational gaps related to field testing and practical experience in geotechnical engineering education. A computer game-based module was developed to supplement traditional lecture techniques and take advantage of technology familiar to today's students. To date, three different versions of the GeoExplorer module have been implemented at four different higher education institutions in the United States to 480 students in total. The final module consisted of a lecture to teach cone penetration testing (CPT) procedures and analysis using traditional methods and demonstration photos and videos as well as a virtual internship experience where context of the virtual field testing environment is provided through a mock internship with a fictitious company. In between implementations, instructor feedback and student surveys were used to iterate over the module and different existing curriculum to work towards our vision of a mixed reality game, one that blends existing curriculum activities with virtual ones. In this paper, we describe our initial impressions of the results of these implementations and reflect on differences in student learning gains on different campuses. The resulting insights shed light on the constraints, difficulties, and opportunities for game-based learning in geotechnical engineering education, particularly as it relates to building a module that is equally effective in fostering student learning in a variety of different classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-684
Number of pages9
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue numberGSP 318
StatePublished - 2020
EventGeo-Congress 2020: Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering and Special Topics - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Feb 25 2020Feb 28 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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