The effectiveness of an activity to practise communication competencies: a case study across five European Engineering Universities

Mariana Leandro Cruz, Sofia Sá, Diana Mesquita, Rui M. Lima, Gillian Saunders-Smits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Although accreditation bodies emphasise communication competencies development in engineering curricula due to its importance for future engineers, the focus is often mainly on oral presentation and written reports. A communication activity was created to practice and reflect on students’ communication competencies including describing information in a short time, listening skills, and ask and respond to questions. This activity was implemented at five different European engineering universities involving 393 students. This study explores the effectiveness of this activity as a case-study of game-based learning to practise and reflect on engineering students’ communication competencies. A mixed-method approach measuring students’ communication performance, their perceived communication competencies, and the benefits of this activity to students was used to explore the game characteristics that make the activity effective. The findings of the scoring rubric and the questionnaire used showed that this activity is effective. Because it is engaging and set by rules, students actively participated during the activity, reflected on their effective and ineffective communication competencies, the existing communication barriers and styles, gained awareness, experienced communication in teams, and cooperated with different people. This study highlights the effectiveness of a small intervention using a proven communication activity, which is freely available as OpenCourseWare through TU Delft for anyone to use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-599
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Game-based learning
  • Case study
  • Communication competencies
  • Engineering curriculum


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