Educating with serious games

Researchers have developed and assessed a serious game to help equip pharmacy students with core competency skills

COVID-19 has compelled university lecturers to explore innovative ways of engaging and educating their students in an online setting.

A team from La Trobe University and the National University of Singapore have explored the use of a serious game – a game that has a purpose other than entertainment – to provide a platform that helps equip pharmacy students with core competency skills.

“It’s essential that pharmacy students develop skills including collaboration, problem solving, health communication, and adaptability,” says lead researcher, Dr Kevin Yap. “But it can be challenging for lecturers and educators to provide large student cohorts with individual feedback on these skills.”

The research team developed an online multiplayer role playing game, called RetroZfecT (RZT).

“It uses a ‘choose your own adventure’ format where players work collaboratively to find a cure for humankind in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world infested by zombies,” explains Dr Kai Zhen Yap from the Department of Pharmacy, National University of Singapore.

While set in fantasy, the in-game scenarios are authentic to real-life pharmacy practices and provide opportunities for the players to hone core competencies.

The research team assessed the education success of the game and the experiences of the student participants.

Students indicated that they enjoyed RZT, and felt it trained them most on performing pharmaceutical calculations, health communication and medication recommendations.

Up to 90% of the students agreed that RZT could supplement traditional teaching methods.

“With appropriate implementation,” says Dr Kevin Yap, “serious games like RZT have the potential to become a useful supplementary teaching tool to help enhance student learning.”

Read the paper.