< Back to Blog

How Universities are Advancing Game-based Learning Research (Part 1)

Previously on the blog, we’ve covered how many universities recognize the potential of video games to reengage students in a post-pandemic landscape. But beyond using games as a teaching tool for their own students, universities are also advancing game-based learning research as a whole, exploring new ways to use games to improve student outcomes and tackle real-world challenges!

via Giphy

Before we present some of the coolest game-based learning research ongoing at universities, give us a follow on Twitter and Facebook – that way, you can keep up with all of the educational game industry news. Don’t have time to read this post right now? No worries! Bookmark it so you can come back to it later. 

Game-based learning for mental health treatment

One example of how universities are advancing game-based learning research is a project currently in progress at Purdue University. Researchers are working on a game-based technology that can detect and intervene against stress and anxiety in real time! The game uses biofeedback sensors to monitor the player’s heart rate, skin conductance, and other physiological measures and adjusts the game’s difficulty and pacing based on the player’s stress levels. The goal is to provide a non-invasive, personalized approach to stress management that can be used by anyone, anywhere.

via Purdue University

Of the project, lead researcher Wenzhuo Wu asserts that “‘Current methods for identifying and diagnosing mental disorders are often based on unreliable, retrospective self-reporting that is dependent on high levels of client motivation and insight. Some apps assess stress and sleep issues subjectively, without relying on physiological measurements.’”

Wu and his fellow Purdue researchers are working with LifeSpan, a tech start-up that uses game-based interventions to help users identify stress- and anxiety-related events as they’re happening. LifeSpan’s initial target audience will be higher education students with a focus on those in marginalized and underserved communities.

This particular project exemplifies the potential of game-based interventions to address stress and anxiety. Technology that enables personalized stress management solutions can adjust and improve the ways we approach mental health treatment, and provide accessible interventions for individuals from all walks of life.

Game-based learning for medical and nursing education

At East Carolina University (ECU), researchers are exploring the potential of games to improve the education of their nursing and medical students. Virtual Clinic, designed by instructional technology consultant Josh Peery, is a video game designed to help nursing and medical students develop their patient assessment and disease diagnostic skills. 

Students can repeat simulated office visits as many times as necessary and pick up on subtle cues leading to the diagnosis of serious medical conditions. Professors can assign students Virtual Clinic scenarios as lessons or even have students build their own cases for others to use. For example, Pamela Reis, the department chair of nursing science and Ph.D. program director at ECU, had medical and nursing students work interprofessionally to create more simulated patient cases for the game.

In a similar vein of research, Queen’s University Belfast partnered with Focus Games to launch a new game for evidence-based nursing training in India. The game, based on a board game from the development studio, is designed to teach nursing students and professionals how to evaluate evidence and apply it to patient care.

via Focus Games

The Evidence-Based Nursing Game was launched in an online event attended by over 250 nurse educators and academics from across India. Intended to improve patient care outcomes, the game requires players to weigh the latest scientific evidence, clinical expertise, and patient preferences into their clinical decision-making. With the goal of bridging the gap between nursing theory and practice by providing students with a fun and interactive way to learn, this project is part of a broader initiative by Queen’s University Belfast to promote the use of digital games in nursing education and research.

The use of games such as Virtual Clinic and the Evidence-Based Nursing Game provides students with an interactive way to develop their patient assessment, diagnostic, decision-making skills, and more. By engaging students in a way that a textbook or video can’t, game-based learning connects medical theory and practice to improve the overall quality of patient care

As an industry-leading educational game developer who has worked with clients to create both games for nursing students and games for medical patients, we’re excited to see where additional research at the intersection of games and medicine goes!

Game-based learning for life science learning and pedagogical research

Meanwhile, close to our headquarters in Madison, WI, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Field Day Lab has released its most ambitious educational game yet. Wake: Tales from the Aqualab is an immersive life-sciences-focused game that teaches middle and high school students about scientific research practices. Players take on the role of a budding ocean floor research scientist and conduct experiments to gather samples of oceanic flora and fauna. The game also includes a compelling story and dream sequences to ignite students’ imaginations and spark their interest in science.

Wake: Tales from the Aqualab has more than 50 different challenges across a dozen ecosystems with hundreds of individual species, all numerically simulated. However, the game isn’t just educational for its players. It’s also enabling important research behind the scenes. 

By collecting data from players, researchers are understanding how people absorb information. Sarah Gagnon, creative director at Field Day Lab notes, “‘This learning game is creating impact by filling an important gap in how science practice and modeling is taught, but it is also an important tool in building learning theory. The game is powering our research into how people learn.’”

A future full of research and (game-based) learning

As you can see from the example above, game-based learning research is important to many educational institutions, not only for what it can do for higher ed students, but also for what it can do for the population at large. By combining cutting-edge technology with evidence-based educational practices, universities are pushing the boundaries of game-based learning research and creating new opportunities for innovation and impact! As the field of game-based learning continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more exciting developments from universities and other institutions committed to advancing this important area of research.

Are you from a higher education institution and looking to create an educational game to advance your research? We’re an educational game developer with 18 years of experience, here to help you bring your vision to life. Let’s work together – contact us today for a free consultation!

More on game-based learning and higher education:

© 2024 Filament games. All rights reserved.