An experimental study on the effects of a simulation game on students' clinical cognitive skills and motivation

Mary E. W. Dankbaar*, Jelmer Alsma, Els E. H. Jansen, Jeroen J. G. van Merrienboer, Jan L. C. M. van Saase, Stephanie C. E. Schuit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Simulation games are becoming increasingly popular in education, but more insight in their critical design features is needed. This study investigated the effects of fidelity of open patient cases in adjunct to an instructional e-module on students' cognitive skills and motivation. We set up a three-group randomized post-test-only design: a control group working on an e-module; a cases group, combining the e-module with low-fidelity text-based patient cases, and a game group, combining the e-module with a high-fidelity simulation game with the same cases. Participants completed questionnaires on cognitive load and motivation. After a 4-week study period, blinded assessors rated students' cognitive emergency care skills in two mannequin-based scenarios. In total 61 students participated and were assessed; 16 control group students, 20 cases students and 25 game students. Learning time was 2 h longer for the cases and game groups than for the control group. Acquired cognitive skills did not differ between groups. The game group experienced higher intrinsic and germane cognitive load than the cases group (p = 0.03 and 0.01) and felt more engaged (p <0.001). Students did not profit from working on open cases (in adjunct to an e-module), which nonetheless challenged them to study longer. The e-module appeared to be very effective, while the high-fidelity game, although engaging, probably distracted students and impeded learning. Medical educators designing motivating and effective skills training for novices should align case complexity and fidelity with students' proficiency level. The relation between case-fidelity, motivation and skills development is an important field for further study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-521
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

Keywords

  • Simulation game
  • Fidelity
  • Cognitive skills
  • Motivation
  • Cognitive load

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