How a game-based approach to teaching helps improve learning

Researchers from Keele University’s Medical School have developed a game-based approach to teaching doctors in training, which helps to improve their learning about how drugs work.

Dr Sarah Aynsley and Dr Russell Crawford invented the card-based, role-playing team game ‘Braincept’, and then researched how this physical game helps to improve pharmacology learning for medical students.

Dr Sarah Aynsley, Teaching Fellow in the School of Medicine, explained:

“In addition to learning outcomes, we knew from existing research that game-based learning can improve creativity and motivation, and develop transferable skills which aid employability, which is why we selected this type of intervention.

“We created Braincept as an aid for pharmacology learning and revision by providing a live, interactive way to explore and expand students’ current knowledge of pharmacological principles.”

Published in the prestigious ‘Higher Education Pedagogies’ journal, the research shows that learning via the Braincept game had a positive effect on students’ confidence when handling knowledge about how drugs work. The results also report a measurable learning gain in knowledge after playing the game.

Dr Russell Crawford, Senior Teaching Fellow in the School of Medicine, and also Academic Developer, explains:

“As well as improving learning outcomes, students also enjoyed this style of learning; they found the rules easy to understand and the gameplay relatively straightforward to learn, and many commented on enjoying the ‘fun factor’ of the game.”

Future work will test whether the Braincept game enhances learning in medical students attending other universities, with the next phase of research being performed in collaboration with a medical school in Saint Lucia in the Caribbean.