G. Makransky1, J. Wulff1, J. Wandall2, A. Lopez Cordoba3, M. Mads3, A. Nørremølle4

1University of Southern Denmark (DENMARK)
2University of Aarhus (DENMARK)
3Labster (DENMARK)
4University of Copenhagen (DENMARK)
Simulations and games provide an excellent possibility for combining the educational principles of case studies, patient stories and medical knowledge with highly realistic medical and clinical scenarios. The Gordon Commissions report on the Future of Assessment in Education (2013) recently concluded that digital games and simulations have the potential to combine learning and assessment, and that this combination is essential for optimal advancement the field of education (Gordon commission, 2013). Digital games and simulations enable learners to see and interact with representations of natural phenomena that would otherwise be impossible to observe (National Research Council, 2011). Medical students value simulation-based learning highly. In particular, they value the possibility of using their theoretical knowledge in a realistic yet safe environment, and to develop a systematic approach to solving problems (Weller, 2004). Furthermore, there is existing evidence that laboratory simulations significantly enhance students’ learning outcome and motivation (Bonde et. al., 2014).

We developed a computer program with a case-based laboratory simulation introducing cytogenetics. In the simulation, the students are introduced to a young couple, where the wife is pregnant and the fetus may suffer from a syndrome caused by a chromosomal abnormality. The student is asked to analyze the fetal DNA and communicate the conclusions to the couple in a simulated genetic counseling.

The cytogenetics laboratory simulation was used with 300 first year undergraduate students at the University of Copenhagen. The session was three hours and consisted of a 30 minute pre-test where students were assessed on their baseline knowledge, motivation and self-efficacy. Then students engaged in the laboratory learning simulation for two hours. This was followed by a 30 minute post-test where students were assessed on their knowledge, motivation, and self-efficacy as well as questions that assessed the students’ attitude toward the simulation.

Results of the study showed significant improvements in knowledge, motivation and self-efficacy from the pre- to the post-test. Greatest knowledge gain was obtained for the weakest students, however low, middle, and high achievement students’ similar positive increases in motivation and self-efficacy.

The consequences and future potential of gamified learning simulations will be discussed.

[1] Bonde M. T., Makransky, G., Wandall, J., Larsen. M. V., Morsing M., Jarmer H., Sommer M. O. (2014). Improving Biotechnology Education through Simulations and Games. Nature Biotechnology. 32: 7, 694-697.
[2] National Research Council. (2011). Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations. Committee on Science Learning: Computer Games, Simulations, and Education, Margaret A. Honey and Margaret L. Hilton, Eds. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
[3] The Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education. (2013).To assess, to teach, to learn: A vision for the future. Technical Report. Gordon Commission Princeton, NJ.
[4] Weller, J. M. (2004). Simulation in undergraduate medical education: bridging the gap between theory and practice. Medical Education; 38: 32–38