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Research Round-Up: Educational Games for Adults

We’re clearly familiar with educational games for adult learners – we’ve developed titles such as the Demonstrating Respect Game, Saving Lives!, MSI Retail Sim, and more. As we mentioned in our post about game-based learning myths, game-based learning is not only effective for children. From higher ed students to medical professionals to older adults, the benefits of playful educational experiences extend to all walks of life. 

via Giphy

While game-based learning has many research-supported benefits in the K-12 classroom, there’s also plenty of research that demonstrates how effective educational gaming is for those out of high school too! Read on and find out how video games can help train, upskill, and educate adults in a variety of careers.

Comparison of the effects of virtual training by serious game and lecture on operating room novices’ knowledge and performance about surgical instruments setup: a multi-center, two-arm study

via BMC Medical Education

Game-based learning is becoming more of a prominent tool in medical training – and for good reason! This particular study put two different teaching methods to the test. Conducted with undergraduate and technology students, the study split the students into two groups: one group honed their surgical instrument setup knowledge and operating room performance with a serious game called “Playing with Surgical Instruments (PlaSurIn)”, and the other with lectures. Each group learned by their assigned method for a week, and then, “To measure knowledge, all the students participated in a theoretical test with 10 multiple-choice questions before and immediately after the training. They also participated in an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) after the training, and their performance was evaluated by the remained time for setup completion and the scores, errors, and bonuses.” The results? The students who completed the game-based training had a significantly higher mean score on the theoretical test, and this group had fewer errors and more bonuses than the lecture group. As you can probably guess, overall the study found that training with “Playing with Surgical Instruments (PlaSurIn)” resulted in a better understanding of surgical instrument setup and better operating room performance for the students than lectures.

Designing digital game-based learning for professional upskilling: A systematic literature review

via Giphy

We’re a fan of this study, as it confirms an important belief of ours – that high-quality game design is required for a high-quality learning experience! As indicated by the title of this particular study, researchers reviewed other studies (literature) on digital game-based learning (DGBL) in order to examine the influence of DGBL on adult learners for professional upskilling. After synthesizing 30 articles that have come out over the last 10 years, the researchers identified some main characteristics of educational digital games informed by pedagogies, various motivational game design elements, and factors that could influence or change the implementation of game-based learning for professionals. They concluded that one must be purposeful with game design “as extraneous game design elements can inhibit the learning process.” After their literature review, researchers emphasized the importance of support, feedback, and pedagogical approaches surrounding game-based learning. In other words, not only does an educational game have to be well-designed to be effective in upskilling employees, but strategic human guidance while using GBL is also vital. Game-based learning is not meant to replace educators!

Facilitating nursing students’ skill training in distance education via online game-based learning with the watch-summarize-question approach during the COVID-19 pandemic: A quasi-experimental study

This study was conducted to see what remote form of teaching was most effective for nursing students. Specifically, researchers set out to determine whether game-based learning or video-based learning was more effective for a group of university students to learn sputum suction skills, and in addition, self-efficacy, learning engagement, and learning satisfaction. The study found that the group of students who used a game-based learning approach followed by a “watch-summarize-question” strategy scored higher in the above criteria than those who trained via videos. In summation, the researchers involved in this experiment suggested that “Nurse educators and researchers should consider integrating computer technology and teaching strategies to facilitate nursing education.” Our conclusion? Medical training and game-based learning seem to be quite the natural pair!  

Game-Based Learning: Enhancing Student Experience, Knowledge Gain, and Usability in Higher Education Programming Courses

via Giphy

This study investigated game-based learning as a method to offset the high dropout rates of higher education students in STEM majors. The authors assert that “traditional teaching paradigms struggle to attract students to rather abstract and difficult STEM subjects such as programming” and so they wanted to examine whether technology such as GBL was able to engage students more effectively. The study included undergraduate and graduate students, and involved games meant to illustrate abstract programming concepts in more concrete, entertaining ways. Students were observed by the researchers and were also surveyed and interviewed to determine their interest and the effectiveness of the games. The study found that game-based learning positively impacted all of the students, but not all in the same way. How each student benefitted from the educational games hinged on demographics such as location, educational background, and the specific game played. This is no surprise to us, as we’ve discussed this topic before on the blog: great educational games are designed with their audience and accessibility in mind. And this can be challenging since there are so many different gamers around the world.

Game-Based Learning in Pharmacy Education

This study examined the use of game-based learning for pharmacy students. Researchers found that “Games with both advanced and minimal technology integration have the potential to improve educational outcomes.” In other words, very simple games, as well as sophisticated simulation games, benefitted pharmacy students. The study concluded that game-based learning can be applied to many different areas of learning for pharmacy students and was overall effective in engaging players: “Intentional design principles and technology increase immersion and enhance the student experience. There are many innovative examples of GBL in the literature that can be used as a springboard to integrate new activities in a variety of content areas.” Researchers also suggested that future studies on game-based learning should include assessment tools outside of pre-tests and post-tests, as current assessment methods may not give us the entire picture. Games as effective assessment tools themselves have been a hot topic for a long time among researchers, developers, and educators alike. We’re eager to see what the future holds for further studies on the outcomes of game-based learning – it’s looking bright!

That wraps up this research roundup on educational games for adults. As you can see, the sky’s the limit when it comes to game-based learning for an audience beyond K-12. Learning games can be powerful training tools in the college classroom or on the job. No matter the age, everyone can benefit from having fun while learning something new. Feeling inspired by this collection of research, and looking to create a training game for your higher ed classroom or your business? We’d love to hear from you!

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