A mathematics less ordinary: serious games engaging engineering students

Pia Heidtmann, Octavian-Iliuta Taralunga, J. Azevedo Martins, Mel Krokos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We discuss the didactical elements underpinning the Horn of ODin (HOD), our recently published mathematics learning object, a serious game in the form of a viking age adventure. The motivation driving development of HOD was the criticism often appearing in student evaluations that traditional learning activities in engineering and pure mathematics are perceived as boring or not helpful for learning. 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 games to cover systematically all aspects of often complex learning outcomes while avoiding resemblance with traditional lessons. We assembled a multidisciplinary team of games specialists and educators to design HOD’s learning activities, focusing on the topic of mathematical relations. HOD is a self-contained prototype learning object, including all theory, exercises and formative assessment, covering this topic, which is at Level 2 of the current SEFI mathematics curriculum framework. The 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 exploiting game elements to link mathematics with customised practicals. HOD integrates formative assessment with player progression and gives continuous, personalised feedback; its immersiveness promotes student engagement on a cognitive level as well as in a social setting.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSEFI Special Interest Group in Mathematics – SIG in Mathematics
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings
PublisherEuropean Society for Engineering Education
ISBN (Print)9782873520250
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2024
EventThe 21st SEFI Special Interest Group in Mathematics Seminar - Tampere, Finland
Duration: 11 Jun 202314 Jun 2023


SeminarThe 21st SEFI Special Interest Group in Mathematics Seminar


  • Active Learning Strategies
  • Playing and Learning in and with Mathematics
  • Serious Games
  • Future and Emerging Technologies
  • Student Engagement
  • Next Generation Classroom
  • Campus
  • Virtual and Blended Learning Communities

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