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To game or not to game: teaching transportation planning with board games


  • Arthur Huang
  • David Levinson

    () (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)


Traditional "chalk and talk" teaching in civil engineering has gradually been replaced with the idea of active learning focusing on encouraging students' knowledge discovery with innovative pedagogical methods and tools. One interesting tool is the board game. This research examines the efficacy of adopting transportation board games as a tool in graduate-level transportation planning and transportation economics classes at the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Minnesota from 2008 to 2010. In these classes, a weekday night was scheduled for playing transportation board games. Students were asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the games on their learning and to write a self-reflective paper about their findings. The majority of the students reveal that their understanding of the planning process, network deployment, and practical issues, and and their ability to form opinion about transportation planning has been improved. Their summaries on the game economy and its implications on planning validate that their understanding obtained from this game process has met the pedagogical goals. Our analysis further shows that students who are moderately/highly visual, sensing, active, or sequential, all else equal, tend to learn more effectively through this approach than those who are not. Overall, this research suggests that properly incorporating board games into the curriculum can enhance students' learning process in transportation planning.

Suggested Citation

  • Arthur Huang & David Levinson, 2011. "To game or not to game: teaching transportation planning with board games," Working Papers 000090, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:gamenight

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    File Function: Second version, 2012
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter Headicar, 2013. "The Changing Spatial Distribution of the Population in England: Its Nature and Significance for 'Peak Car'," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 310-324, May.
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    3. David Metz, 2013. "Peak Car and Beyond: The Fourth Era of Travel," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 255-270, May.
    4. Tobias Kuhnimhof & Dirk Zumkeller & Bastian Chlond, 2013. "Who Made Peak Car, and How? A Breakdown of Trends over Four Decades in Four Countries," Transport Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(3), pages 325-342, May.
    5. Habib, Khandker M. Nurul & Swait, Joffre & Salem, Sarah, 2014. "Using repeated cross-sectional travel surveys to enhance forecasting robustness: Accounting for changing mode preferences," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 110-126.
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    More about this item


    pedagogy; games; transport economics; railroad;

    JEL classification:

    • R2 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics
    • A23 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Graduate

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