EXPERIENCE OF UNDERGRADUATE AND POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS WITH AN EDUCATIONAL GAME APP FOR SMARTPHONES FOR LEARNING DIAGNOSIS OF MALARIA
1 De Montfort University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 University of Salamanca, Faculty of Pharmacy, Campus Miguel Unamuno (SPAIN)
3 Universidad de Alcalá, Departamento de Ciencias Biomédicas (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Numerous benefits are related to the use of educational games, including their effect in promoting motivation and overcoming fatigue and disengagement. To enhance the learning of clinical parasitology diagnostic skills, De Montfort University (DMU, UK) launched, in March 2021, a pilot anthology app of three educational mini-games, named ‘e-Parasitology Game Collection©’, available from Google store (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DMUHLS.ParasitologyGameCollection). The game app is being tested with different Universities in England, Spain and Sierra Leone. We report here the impressions of students from DMU (BSc Biomedical Science, MSc Advance Biomedical Science) and the Spanish University of Salamanca (BSc Biology), to study the effectiveness of the game app developed on learning. The same methods were used at both institutions; briefly: students were asked to complete the three mini-games currently available: Mosquito Town Defence (to learn prevention techniques and strategies); Symptom Game with Microscopy (to learn clinical symptoms of malaria and investigate blood samples for diagnosis); Microscopy Standalone (to learn clinical diagnosis). Students voluntarily provided feedback at the end of the session. The game app was easily downloaded and was well received by students; most students considered that the game was interactive and easy to understand. Although the impressions collected within the three programmes were similar, the anthology game app developed was shown to be less effective in students that have not studied malaria before. Thus, MSc Advance Biomedical Science’ students pointed out that playing with the game app did not increase their understanding of malaria. These postgraduate students specifically found challenging the identification of the different Plasmodium spp. and their features to distinguish between them, which is pivotal for providing adequate treatment and management of malaria. This could be attributed to the inherent complexity of the microscopic technique to distinguish between the four major Plasmodium species affecting humans, skills that are laborious and require constant training in order to be acquired. As a result, students that have studied parasitology before and completed laboratory practicals on malaria could familiarise faster with the different features of these parasites and get a better outcome by playing with the game app developed. Thus, undergraduate students in both programmes, who have studied malaria before in their modules, reported that the virtual blood smears available enhanced their learning of diagnostic skills, and most were able to detect and distinguish between the four Plasmodium species. These results agree with those found in fourth year Pharmacy students at the Spanish University of Miguel Hernández de Elche in 2021/22. Although our results should be considered as preliminary, the e-Parasitology Game Collection© developed could facilitate the teaching and learning of complex diagnostic skills for the identification of Plasmodium species, especially in students who are aware of this major disease. Although this game app has just been launched and further studies are needed to identify its effectiveness on deep learning, academics can easily adopt it to implement gamification in their teaching to enhance their students’ experience.
Keywords: E-Parasitology game app, gamification, parasitology, diagnosis.