Gamification in M.Pharm. teaching

Breen, D. and Boyter, A.C. and Lynas, G. (2019) Gamification in M.Pharm. teaching. Pharmacy Education, 19 (1). p. 265. 38. ISSN 1560-2214

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Gamification is the use of game mechanics to promote engagement and enjoyment in a variety of tasks for the purposes of learning. This interactive and collaborative approach when applied to healthcare education improves student knowledge and understanding, and further develops communication and interpersonal skills in a range of settings. The benefits of these activities rely on well-designed games, based on the "laws of learning" and the "laws of good game design" Aims: The aim of this project was to enlist final year MPharm students to develop a pharmacy-based game that provide an interactive, peer led learning activity, to increase student engagement and attainment within key areas of the MPharm curriculum. Method: Final year students surveyed their peers (107 participants). This identified pharmaceutical/medicinal chemistry and pharmacokinetics as areas of difficulty, which guided the content, and design of the games. Game prototypes were developed and tested within the development group. Beta testing with small groups of students from final year was conducted (3 groups, 8 students per group). Feedback was collected from each test in the form of a group interview and individual questionnaire post-test to assess engagement and effectiveness. The final product of this process is the game Pharmopoly. Results: This project produced a versatile new game - "Pharmopoly" which fits in our integrated spiral curriculum. The game mechanics place particular emphasis on the chemistry and pharmacokinetic, providing a fun and novel way for students to engage with course content. Pharmopoly represents a versatile teaching tool, which can be used to target specific year groups and subjects through development of appropriate question banks while maintaining the game mechanics. Testing in larger teaching settings is planned for the coming academic year to allow a fuller assessment of the impact and effectiveness of game as a teaching tool. Conclusion: This game provides a fun and engaging teaching tool while supporting the achievement of key learning outcomes, as demonstrated through the positive student responses in our post-test evaluations. These results add further support to the growing body of literature that gamification can an effective tool in healthcare education.