M. Nowparwar, O. Ashour, S. G. Ozden, D. Knight, P. Delgoshaei, and A. Negahban
ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Publication year: 2022

We propose and assess the effectiveness of novel immersive simulation-based learning (ISBL) modules for teaching and learning engineering economy concepts. The proposed intervention involves technology-enhanced problem-based learning where the problem context is represented via a three-dimensional (3D), animated discrete-event simulation model that resembles a real-world system or situation that students may encounter in future professional settings. Students can navigate the simulated environment in both low- and high-immersion modes (i.e., on a typical personal computer or via a virtual reality headset). The simulation helps contextualize and visualize the problem setting, allowing students to observe and understand the underlying dynamics, collect relevant data/information, evaluate the effect of changes on the system, and learn by doing. The proposed ISBL approach is supported by multiple pedagogical and psychological theories, namely the information processing approach to learning theory, constructivism theory, self-determination theory, and adult learning theory. We design and implement a set of ISBL modules in an introductory undergraduate engineering economy class. The research experiments involve two groups of students: a control group and an intervention group. Students in the control group complete a set of traditional assignments, while the intervention group uses ISBL modules. We use well-established survey instruments to collect data on demographics, prior preparation, motivation, experiential learning, engineering identity, and self-assessment of learning objectives based on Bloom’s taxonomy. Statistical analysis of the results suggests that ISBL enhances certain dimensions related to motivation and experiential learning, namely relevance, confidence, and utility. We also provide a qualitative assessment of the proposed intervention based on detailed, one-on-one user testing and evaluation interviews.