ARONSON PUZZLES AND ROLE-PLAYING GAMES: POWERFUL TOOLS FOR TEACHING PLANT YIELD BREEDING IN A MASTER DEGREE SUBJECT

M. Leiva-Brondo, J. Cebolla-Cornejo, R.M. Peiró, A.M. Pérez-de-Castro

Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
The use of games in teaching is a widely used tool in primary and secondary school, but it can also be used in Higher Education at Bachelor and Master Level. Two games frequently used are Aronson puzzle and role-playing games. Both are collaborative and tend to involve the student in a new situation that has to be solved with the help of his/her partners. The use of these games in the classroom favour teamwork, oral communication, critical thinking and student’s relationships. Plant breeding subjects tend to solve complex problems that have many points of view and have to take into account different strategies. The use of Aronson puzzle and role-playing games adapt to the kind of problems that are solved in Plant Breeding subjects because they allow students to face a situation using different approaches and allow them to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy exposed. In addition, these techniques allow a high interaction between the students and provide a relaxed learning environment. Also, the involvement of the student is very high, increasing the motivation in the subject. The election of the topics to be discussed can help the students to be aware of the contemporary issues related to the subject and to propose new approaches to solve specific problems. These techniques were implemented in a subject of a Master Degree in Plant Breeding. Two different activities were carried out, each of them with one the techniques described above. Activities were carried out in two different academic years. The results were quite satisfactory, the student’s involvement was very high, and they encouraged the teacher to repeat the games in following years. The academic performance of the students was also very high, reaching conclusions according the academic level of the subject. In this paper the benefits and disadvantages of these techniques are discussed and its concrete application in a specific subject of a Plant Breeding Master is described.