Dr. Fadi Castronovo, a researcher at the centre, in collaboration with Nicholas Stepanik, Dr. Peggy Van Meter, and Prof. John Messner, all from the Pennsylvania State University, published a new article in the Advanced Engineering Informatics journal on their work on the use of an educational simulation game, Virtual Construction Simulator 4 (VCS4), in construction pedagogy.
The growing adoption of educational games in construction pedagogy has significantly impacted student learning, and the VCS4 has been found to support student learning of how to solve complex construction problems in classroom settings. Through new research efforts, the team aimed at further investigating and evaluating the thinking processes that students engage while playing the game.
This study examined those thinking processes by analysing verbal protocols (think alouds) collected as students thought aloud while playing VCS4 game modules and resulting verbal protocols were coded to capture both cognitive and metacognitive operations. Patterns of thought revealed by this coding were then compared to the patterns expected based on the intentions of game design.
The results show that students do generally exhibit the expected patterns. These findings illustrate the capacity that educational construction games have in engaging students in complex thinking processes that require a wide range of cognitive and metacognitive operations. The findings are also unprecedented in construction pedagogy research, as previous studies focused on the educational impacts of educational games in classroom environments and warranted a deeper understanding of how such games engaged students. The findings are essential in understanding how simulation games can support and prepare students for the construction industry. Another contribution is that these findings can support researchers beyond construction by modelling the thinking processes that students might engage in while solving complex problems in other engineering disciplines.