National University of Singapore (SINGAPORE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 9049-9053
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0971
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The Generation Y students who enter our pharmacy course are technology-savvy and digitally focused. Our educators have a constant challenge to find innovative approaches to sustain students’ interests in their modules, encourage peer learning and improve their practice skills. Furthermore, students face the challenge of not being able to integrate and apply what they have learnt to real-life practices. We developed an in-house role-playing game simulating various patient encounters in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world. Students played the game as pharmacist avatars to solve a “mystery”. They had to communicate with virtual patients through series of questions in order to assess their medical conditions, and then provide therapeutically sound management plans.

A cross-sectional study was conducted in October 2015 on a cohort of lower year pharmacy undergraduates. Students played the game prototype in one of their modules. After gameplay, they were asked to complete a self-administered survey to identify their experiences with the game. The survey obtained their preferences of various gaming elements in the prototype, and the effectiveness of the prototype in achieving its learning objectives.

Response rate was 95.2% (178/187 students). Majority agreed that the game was effective in the training of health communication (93.8%) and patient history taking skills (84.3%), extraction of drug information (85.4%) and knowledge of pharmacotherapy of drugs (83.7%). A quarter (25.3%) felt that the game was more effective than lectures in helping them meet the learning objectives. Over half agreed that the interactivity with virtual patients helped them understand how to take a patient’s medical history (58.4%) and the appropriateness of the medication recommendation (56.2%). Most also preferred the adventurer storyline of the game (83.7%). The top in-game reward systems preferred by students were resources (83.7%), item grants (82.0%) and plot animations (82.0%); while vitality and life bars (64.0%) and experience points (57.9%) were the least preferred. Nearly two-thirds (62.4%) liked the three-dimensional first person perspective during gameplay. The proportion who liked the collaborative (84.3%) and cooperative aspects (82.6%) of the game was twice the proportion who liked its competitive aspect (43.3%). Almost half indicated that the fantasy elements in the game were fun and entertaining (48.9%). Majority agreed that the briefing and debriefing sessions before and after gameplay played an important role in enhancing their learning experience (71.3%) and their understanding of the learning objectives of the game (74.2%).

Our in-house game prototype was well-received by pharmacy undergraduates. When complemented with appropriate briefing and debriefing, majority of students agreed that the game managed to enhance their learning experiences and pharmacy practice knowledge and skills. It is intended that this game be used to supplement our current methods of teaching in our clinical modules in the near future.
Games-based learning, Gamification, Serious games, Pharmacy, Virtual patients, Role-playing games.