Educational games have been shown to be effective in supporting learning, especially to reinforce knowledge, and students are generally positive about the use of games. The aim of this mixed methods study that was conducted in the UK was to explore educators' views towards the use of educational games in the health sciences. The data were collected via semistructured interviews with 13 health educators and an online survey that was completed by 97 health educators. Three factors influence the use of classroom games: reflective practice, the impact of games on students, and the impact of logistical factors. Educators assess their own performance and the impact of the games on students when planning their use; however, large classes and the need for preparation time have a negative impact on educators' willingness to use games. Similar constraints might restrict the use of active learning strategies, such as simulation, that are crucial for enabling health professionals to develop competence. These issues require consideration when planning educational methods.
Title.Educational gaming in the health sciences: systematic review. Aim. This paper is a report of a review to investigate the use of games to support classroom learning in the health sciences. Background. One aim of education in the health sciences is to enable learners to develop professional competence. Students have a range of learning styles and innovative teaching strategies assist in creating a dynamic learning environment. New attitudes towards experiential learning methods have contributed to the expansion of gaming as a strategy. Data sources. A search for studies published between January 1980 and June 2008 was undertaken, using appropriate search terms. The databases searched were: British Education Index, British Nursing Index, The Cochrane Library, CINAHLPlus, Medline, PubMed, ERIC, PsychInfo and Australian Education Index. Methods. All publications and theses identified through the search were assessed for relevance. Sixteen papers reporting empirical studies or reviews that involved comparison of gaming with didactic methods were included. Results. The limited research available indicates that, while both traditional didactic methods and gaming have been successful in increasing student knowledge, neither method is clearly more helpful to students. The use of games generally enhances student enjoyment and may improve long-term retention of information. Conclusion. While the use of games can be viewed as a viable teaching strategy, care should be exercised in the use of specific games that have not been assessed objectively. Further research on the use of gaming is needed to enable educators to gaming techniques appropriately for the benefit of students and, ultimately, patients.