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Playing quiz-games on their phones: A winning combination?

Kate Wilkinson, Hartpury University

With increasing attention on blended and mobile learning alongside an ever-increasing attempt to measure engagement means that we are constantly looking for ways or tools to help students achieve. As an advocate of active learning, teaching anatomy for sports science students in higher education (HE) has always pushed me to try new tools and ways to engage students. Students don’t typically enjoy the subject due to the large volume of new, Latin vocabulary and the traditional methods of teaching (Ratcliffe & Lester, 2003). Previous research utilising quiz-games on iPads in anatomy workshops showed positive effects on learning (Wilkinson & Barter, 2016) agreeing with Lameris, Hoenderop, Bindels and Eijsvogels (2015). Therefore, I embarked on a journey to investigate whether playing these quiz-games prior to an undergraduate anatomy assessment (online multiple choice questions [MCQs]) increased their achievement and what they thought about them (Rondon, Sassi, & de Andrade, 2013; Wilkinson, Huyck, Garelick, & Dafoulas, 2019).

The students, a convenience sample, repeated over two academic years, had three MCQ assessments in the year: the first one was used as a baseline measure of knowledge and level; the second was the control (no playing quiz-games); and the third, the intervention (15 minutes of quiz-games prior to the assessment). The quiz-games used were within the Muscles and Bones application and Essential Anatomy (see realbodywork.com; 3D4Medical.com).

The results showed that playing quiz-games increased achievement in the third assessment by 3.7 per cent, but for those not participating in the games scores actually decreased by 6.1 per cent compared to the second assessment. So at worst, there is nearly half a grade boundary increase, at best, a whole classification boundary difference. What was the learning mechanism behind the improvement? There was no difference in their previous assessment scores or baseline knowledge, and traditionally the better students like to stick to their own revision rather than looking for a ‘quick fix’. Was it the repeated questioning? Formative testing is shown to improve memory, so therefore the terminology could indeed have embedded itself in their short-term memory (Roediger & Karpicke, 2014).

‘We spend so long asking them to get off their phones in class, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to give them what they want but show them how they can use gaming in all forms to personalise their learning and get better test scores?’

Had they started using the app outside of class for learning, and therefore their revision in general was better? The thematic analysis revealed that they used the quiz-games while commuting, between classes and for enjoyment, so this could have been the case but it wasn’t tested… next time! Lastly, do sports students like winning and had, therefore, the success cycle of learning to fail and then improving manifested in their autonomy of learning (Busch, Claßnitz, Selmanagic, & Steinicke, 2015)? Competition was highlighted as being important, so again, this could be the case – although, would this be true in other types of students?

What does this mean? Like with any educational in-class research we cannot generalise as far as we would like, but finding simple, quiz-game applications for any subject could be a quick win for students and staff! We spend so long asking them to get off their phones in class, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to give them what they want but show them how they can use gaming in all forms to personalise their learning and get better test scores (Davis, Sridharan, Koepke, Singh, & Boiko, 2018)?


This blog is based on the article ‘Are quiz‐games an effective revision tool in Anatomical Sciences for Higher Education and what do students think of them?’ by Kate Wilkinson, Christian Huyck, Hemda Garelick and George Dafoulas, published in the British Journal of Educational Technology. It has been made free-to-view until 31 January 2020, courtesy of our publishing partners, Wiley.


References

Busch, C., Claßnitz, S., Selmanagic, A., & Steinicke, M. (2015). Developing and testing a mobile learning games framework. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 13(3), 151–166.

Davis, K., Sridharan, H., Koepke, L., Singh, S., & Boiko, R. (2018). Learning and engagement in a gamified course: Investigating the effects of student characteristics. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 34(5), 492–503.

Lameris, A. L., Hoenderop, J. G., Bindels, R. J., & Eijsvogels, T. M. (2015). The impact of formative testing on study behaviour and study performance of (bio)medical students: a smartphone application intervention study. BMC Medical Education, 15(1), 72.

Radcliffe, C., & Lester, H. (2003). Perceived stress during undergraduate medical training: A qualitative study. Medical Education, 37(1), 32–38.

Roediger III, H. L., & Karpicke, J. D. (2006). Test-enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long-term retention. Psychological Science, 17(3), 249–255.

Rondon, S., Sassi, F. C., & de Andrade, C. R. F. (2013). Computer game-based and traditional learning method: A comparison regarding students’ knowledge retention. BMC Medical Education, 13(1), 30.

Wilkinson, K., Huyck, C., Garelick, H., & Dafoulas, G. (2019). Are quiz‐games an effective revision tool in Anatomical Sciences for Higher Education and what do students think of them?. British Journal of Educational Technology. Advance online publication. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12883

Wilkinson, K., & Barter, P. (2016). Do mobile learning devices enhance learning in higher education anatomy classrooms?. Journal of Pedagogic Development, 6(1), 14–23.