Using Digital Game Based Resources to Engage Students in First Year Human Life Sciences

By Tracy Anne Douglas, Susan Salter and Mike Capstick.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The School of Human Life Sciences (HLS) at the University of Tasmania teaches a diverse student population enrolled in biomedical science, environmental health, exercise science, health science, and medical imaging. All of these HLS students study common first year units including cell biology, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology, and are characterised by a range of different learning styles. In recognition of the diverse needs of our first year student population, we have developed and implemented a number of self-directed learning resources in our first year units including digital game based learning (DGBL) resources. These DGBL resources include both multiplayer and single player games to engage students in unit content and enable them to link concepts between foundation units in the first year curriculum. Student feedback from open and closed questionnaires indicates that students enjoy playing online games to stimulate their learning and are able to transfer knowledge between first year units after using the game platform learning resources. The games also allow students to participate in active learning in a fun and stimulating learning environment. We believe that DGBL resources are a vital pedagogical tool in our portfolio of teaching and learning resources for first year HLS students.

Keywords: Digital Game Resource, Health Science, Transfer of Learning, Active Learning, Engagement, Motivation

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.41-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 533.505KB).

Tracy Anne Douglas

Lecturer, School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Tracy has a Masters in Medical Science (Physiology) and a Graduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning and has received numerous teaching merit certificates at the University of Tasmania. She is the first year coordinator and mentor coordinator for the School of Human Life Sciences and also an advisor for first year health science students. Tracy develops curriculum and teaches in a number of first and second year units taught to Human Life Science, Nursing and Education students. Her current research interests are in aspects of first year teaching and learning of human biology and she has developed teaching and learning resources, together with other academic colleagues, to encourage first year students to embrace scientific knowledge and become motivated learners. Tracy is also interested in strategies which will incorporate fun into the first year experience and ease the transition of first year students into university life.

Susan Salter

Lecturer, School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Susan is a lecturer in the School of Human Life Sciences, UTas. She qualified as a Medical Scientist and has worked in diagnosis, teaching and research in diagnostic pathology. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Medical Scientists, has a BA in General Studies (Philosophy, History & Languages), postgraduate qualifications including a Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning at University, qualifications in IT & Multimedia and Design, and is undertaking a Masters by Research in Education. Her research areas include engaging a first year diverse cohort of science-based students and improving learning outcomes. Together with colleagues Susan has received a Teaching and Learning Grant to produce and evaluate an interactive Game Based Digital Resource for foundation knowledge transfer. In 2009 Susan received a Vice Chancellors Citation for outstanding contributions to Teaching and Learning. She is the visiting C.S.I.R.O “Scientist in the School” at Riverside High School where she encourages students to take up undergraduate studies and a career in science.

Mike Capstick

Honorary Associate, School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Mike Capstick has taught Information Technology at the Tasmanian Polytechnic since 1981. He has developed educational courseware for both internal and external clients since the early 1980s and has developed and delivered a number of commercial short courses for industry including an accounting course at the Australian Maritime College. Online he has collaborated with people from Australia and overseas including Canada (University of Alberta), the UK and the US in game resource development. He is currently working with UTas, School of Human Life Sciences on the development of an online multiplayer game as a learning resource for connecting foundation knowledge in science based units.