Assessment of Millennial Interior Design Students' Perceptions Concerning Game-Based Learning

Presented by: Jessica R. MacKenzie, Dr. Stephanie Clemons, and Dr. Kenneth Tremblay

Research indicates that Millennial-aged students perceive that lecture-based courses are ineffective for engaged learning and, therefore their least preferred method of information delivery in college-level courses. Yet, many interior design programs offer lecture-based courses as part of their approved interior design curriculum (Demirbas & Demirkan 2007). 

Game-based learning (GBL) has been proposed as a method of teaching that may more clearly engage Millenial students in the learning process and meet the pedagogical goals of the course (Jones, 2012; Trybus, 2012). While GBL has been attempted in at least one lecture-based, interior design course (Clemons & MacKenzie, 2014), little assessment of this pedagogy has been reported. 

This presentation will discuss the assessment of Millennial students who participated in a lecture-based course that was partially flipped using GBL strategies. This presentation may interest those desiring to understand how Millennial interior design students think of and respond to GBL as well as those interested in modifying curriculum to match preferred learning styles of Millennial students. 

The objective of this explorative phenomenological study was to interpret the meanings of the participant’s attitudes and perceptions of GBL in a lecture-based, junior-level, lighting design course. Student participant volunteers were organized into focus group sessions and asked a series of open-ended questions concerning (1) perceptions of lecture courses and educational games, (2) positive or negative aspects the specific games played (e.g. Illuminating Race), (3) perceptions regarding the retention, transferability and application of lighting information learned as a result of GBL activities, and (4) suggestions for interior design educators interested in implementing GBL in their curriculum. Focus group sessions were analyzed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.  Emerging themes were organized in a summary table, which illustrates the phenomenon the participants experienced.  (See Figure 1, Table 1, and Table 2 in Appendices).

Based on previous experiences with lecture-based courses, participants perceived they connected and engaged more in learning course materials using GBL strategies. They offered both positive and negative assessments of their GBL experiences focusing on (1) peer influences, (2) emotional and motivational factors, (3) how the games impacted their retention and transferability of information, and (4) how the implementation of games and the mechanics of the game affected their learning. 

The majority of participants agreed that GBL assisted them in developing and strengthening lighting vocabulary as well as concepts concerning theory and design application. They also shared they would not have been as confident about their ability to communicate lighting or to work with diverse groups had GBL not been implemented into their course. Participants valued the use of GBL because of its effectiveness in lecture-based course learning.

Participants shared suggestions for educators interested in developing GBL activities that may result in enhanced student learning. Strategies included the importance of carefully planning GBL activities, the need to appeal to multiple learning styles, and the importance of instructional feedback during gameplay. Some participants shared that many instructors overlook opportunities for engaging students in the learning process by relying on previously-used methods of content delivery.

Completing the cycle of course re-design, the course instructor implemented participant suggestions into revised GBL activities and assessed quality of learning among students the following semester. Assessment and continuous improvement within courses can ensure enhanced quality of teaching and learning.


  • Clemons, S. & MacKenzie, J.R. (2014). Game-based learning (GBL) used in redesign of lighting course: Effective, engaging, + fun!  Proceedings of the annual Interior Design Educators Council conference, New Orleans, LA.
  • Demirbas, O. O. & Demirkan, H. (2007). Learning styles of design students and the relationship of academic performance and gender in design education. Learning and Instruction, 17(3), 345-359. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2007.02.007.
  • Jones, V. R. (2012). Essentials for engaged 21st learners. Techniques, 87(7), 16-19.
  • Trybus, J. (2012). Game-based learning: What it is, why it works, and where it's going. New Media Institute. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from

Appendix File 1
Appendix File 2
Appendix File 3