Mars: An Ethical Expedition

Navigate your way through Mars in this choose your own adventure style game focused on ethics!

Cards Against Engineering Ethics

Play this hilarious Cards Against Humanity inspired game while learning about engineering ethics!

Toxic Workplaces

Pick a scenario and decide how to respond in this game designed for understanding workplace ethics!

Engineers are often faced with social and ethical dilemmas throughout their everyday lives.

The popularity and prevalence of game-based or “playful” learning strategies has grown significantly over the past two decades, finding applications in a diverse range educational context. In this project, we address the application of playful learning to engineering ethics education, with a focus on fostering the skills that are necessary to act as a moral agent in the increasingly complex and challenging landscape of engineering decision-making. Playful learning is strongly supported by contemporary learning theory – situated/embodied cognition and learning, and we argue that the key to meaningful experience with gameplay lies in forging connections between the learner/player and the scenario at hand, by integrating highly-situated and context-rich scenarios.

We have developed a suite of games to engage students using captivating stories, teamwork, and score keeping, competition, and fun. Click above to learn more about these games.

If you are interested to learn more and/or would like to implement these games in your classroom, fill out the survey and we will be in touch! 

Research Team Institutions

Why playful learning in engineering ethics?

Why playful learning in engineering ethics? There are many pitfalls with the traditional ways in which ethics is taught to engineering students. Often it is taught as an abstract philosophical topic, rather than an act of personal decision making situated in complex real-world contexts. Often, engineering ethics instruction is taught by a philosophy professor rather than an engineer. It is usually included late in the undergraduate curriculum, such as during a senior capstone project, and is a relatively short subtopic (module) within a larger array of engineering content. As a result, students often do not see ethics as equally important as other topics. They do not see it consistently integrated throughout the curriculum, nor do they see ethical decisions as complex, nuanced, and situated in varying political and economic contexts in which engineering takes place.

We contend a better alternative would be to address engineering ethics not solely in the abstract of philosophy or moral development, but as situated in the everyday decisions of engineers as they do their work. Since such everyday decisions are not a part of university courses, the alternative in the context of classes, is to simulate engineering decision-making situations with scenarios or the presentation of ethical dilemmas drawn from real life cases. This can often put students in the position of searching for the “right ethical response,” rather than applying their personal ethic toward reasoning through various contingencies and trade-offs to determine their best path to solution in a particular moment. Drawing on the contemporary learning theory of situated learning [1][2], playful learning may enable instructors to create assignments that enable students to break free of the typical student mindset of finding the “right” answer, and use various game mechanics to induce them to act more as themselves, as they would on-the-fly within a real engineering project context, drawing on personal reasoning and justifications, rather than simply right/wrong answers.

illustration of an iphone with a game on the screen and a trophy

Our work is based on the logic that game-based learning can provide a means to engage students actively in interrogating the complexities of ethical decision making in specific engineering scenarios. Game play can align with engineering course learning objectives as well as enhance student knowledge, behaviors, and dispositions as students reflect on their own decision making and that of their peers [3].

[1] J. S. Brown, A. Collins, & P. Duguid, “Situated cognition and the culture of learning”, Educational Researcher, Jan-Feb, 1989, pp. 32-42.

[2] J. Lave, & E. Wenger, “Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation”. New York: Cambridge U. Press, 1991, (ISBN# 0-521-42374-0)

[3] M. F. Young, S. Slota, A. B. Cutter, G. Jalette, G. Mullin, B. Lai, ... M. Yukhymenko, “Our princess is in another castle: A review of trends in serious gaming for education”. Review of Educational Research, vol. 82(1), pp. 61-89, 2012.