Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2018

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Industrial Engineering

First Advisor

Thomas, Geb W

First Committee Member

Thomas, Geb W

Second Committee Member

Pennathur, Priyadarshini

Third Committee Member

DeVane, Benjamin


Effective learning models adopt a highly structured approach for introductory topics, then provide students more freedom as topics increase in depth and complexity. The structure guides beginning students with rapid, appropriate feedback and provides a framework that can be expanded later with extra flexibility that encourages students to flesh out the basic framework with trial and error. This trial and error phase would also be more effective with informative feedback but providing copious feedback on open-ended problems is only feasible with a small student-to-teacher ratio or with the help of e-learning. Training engineers involves introducing many complex topics and the educational costs are high, making the use of e-learning an important training opportunity.

This project introduced a novel e-learning system to engineering students in an introductory course. An experiment compared a highly structured electronic game with a more traditional, flipped classroom teaching approach. The novel learning method is intended to engage students with a consistent cognitive load as they progress through increasingly difficult learning experiences within the MySQL database querying language. Performance was measured with a post-task exercise. Task load was measured using an unweighted NASA Task Load Index (NASA-TLX). The two cohorts experienced both learning methods in two training sessions in opposite order.

In the first session, participants in the current learning method group outperformed the participants in the game group (a score of 95.78 versus 93.94), but the second session was a reverse of these results (92.79 and 95.76). The task load indices also follow this pattern, with participants in the current group recording a lower task load than the game group in session one and a higher load in session two. However, as the training progressed in each session the task load increased less for the game group than for the current group, indicating that the game group experienced a more consistent task load, as expected. The game tended to extend the time that students stayed at a comfortable but challenging cognitive load, while the students in current training group experienced more periods of very low or very high cognitive load. This consistent task load may be responsible for the game producing better results on the more difficult content of the second week. We expect that as the game techniques improve, this will lead to more consistently efficient learning acquisition. We expect that the general technique may be adapted to other training areas, yielding broader educational efficiency.


database language, educational games, e-learning, engineering education, human computer interaction, interactive learning


ix, 57 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 42-46).


Copyright © 2018 Summer Campbell