Presentation session 2.2 Mathematical knowledge

A Mathematics Less Ordinary: Serious Games Engaging Engineering Students

P. Heidtmann1 & O. Tarălungă2,3 & J. Azevedo Martins3 & M. Krokos3

1Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Mid Sweden University, SE, 2Academy for Games and Media, Breda University of Applied Sciences, NL, 3School of Creative Technologies, University of Portsmouth, UK

We discuss the didactical elements underpinning the Horn of ODin (HOD), our recently published undergraduate mathematics learning object, a serious game in the form of a viking age adventure (Taralunga, Heidtmann & Krokos, 2021), together with our first classroom experiences.

In course evaluations students often criticise traditional learning activities in engineering and pure mathematics (e.g. lectures, practicals and textbooks) as boring or not helpful in their learning. Class attendance is not always at ideal levels, and it is unfortunately not uncommon for a large part of a cohort to fail one or more Learning Outcomes (LOs) on a course due to lack of student engagement.

Purpose-made serious games on the other hand are widely accepted as good learning tools for engagement and deeper learning. The challenge is to construct such serious games so as to systematically and methodically cover all aspects of often complex LOs in higher education mathematics without the resulting objects resembling a common lesson. A multidisciplinary team of games specialists and educators have worked together to design the learning activities within HOD to address this challengefor mathematical relations, a common subject in discrete mathematics courses around the world. The result is an immersive game facilitating prolonged student engagement with mathematics on a cognitive level, but also in a social setting, thus supporting deeper learning for students to meet the LOs fully.

Our HOD game is a self-contained prototype learning object including all theory, exercises and formative assessment from a real-world undergraduate course on the chosen example subject of relations, which is a topic at Level 2 on the current SEFI mathematics curriculum framework (SEFI, 2013). However, our methodology can be applied readily to subjects at Core Levels as well as Level 3 of the framework, and can be extended to create rich cross-disciplinary learning objects by using game elements to connect mathematics with practical engineering exercises.

HOD is based on an original story in which players get to be heroes and go on a quest for wisdom where they interact with colourful characters and creatures from Norse mythology. Players progress through the game levels by learning more and more about relations and work towards a final goal of assembling a magical horn. Each game level is a story chapter illustrating one particular bite-sized aspect of the LO. HOD gives continuous personal feedback on all hero actions, and formative assessment is integrated in the narrative with correct answers giving the player advantages for game progression. A short video presenting the HOD game can be viewed at:


Catching up on Basic Mathematics Knowledge

Prof. Dr. W. Werft & Prof. Dr. S. Rasenat

University of Applied Sciences, Mannheim, Germany

Engineers of different specialisations are trained at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences. In the engineering degree programmes, all students attend mathematics lectures with similar topics from algebra, analysis and linear algebra in the first two semesters. The prior knowledge of the students is very heterogeneous  as they acquired their university entrance qualification at different educational institutions. While some  students have all the necessary prior knowledge to successfully complete the mathematics lectures,  other students lack essential knowledge from school mathematics.

Since 2018 we established at Mannheim University of Applied Sciences  Moodle based online testson 10 different basic mathematics topics as admission requirements for the mathematics exams. Students are also given various opportunities to prepare for these tests. The tests are carried out in a pool room at the university under supervision.

In a poster we will describe how the tests are structured, what their content is and what techniques are used. We will also present the experiences and results we have had with this educational measure over the past 4 years.


The evolution of the Mathematics requirements for entry onto a level 8 Engineering degree in Ireland and how we can increase access to level 8 engineering.

Michael Carr

Technological University Dublin, Ireland

Entry onto most level 8 engineering degrees in Ireland is restricted to students with a H4(60-70) or higher in leaving certificate mathematics. The current mathematics requirement for submission to a level 8 engineering degree in most universities in Ireland has evolved from a decision taken in 1969, based on the old honours and pass grading system. The evolution of this position is traced from 1969 until 2021. At each stage of the process, the emphasis has been on how best to approximate the 1969 position, with little or no  reflection on whether this is the correct position or not. In this paper we look at the data of students who have entered level 8 engineering in TU Dublin, and argue that TU Dublin(and other Universities) should use an evidence based approach to open up entry to all students with a H5(50-60) or higher in leaving certificate mathematics. Such a decision would greatly increase the pool of available students for level 8 engineering, and would allow entry to level 8 to a large pool of students who are capable of completing a level 8 degree in engineering but are currently  denied direct entry.