The impact of specially designed digital games-based learning in undergraduate pathology and medical education
Context: The rapid advances of computer technologies have created a new e-learner generation of "Homo-zappien" students that think and learn differently. Digital gaming is an effective, fun, active, and encouraging way of learning, providing immediate feedback and measurable process. Within the context of ongoing reforms in medical education, specially designed digital games, a form of active learning, are effective, complementary e-teaching/learning resources. Objective: To examine the effectiveness of the use of specially designed digital games for student satisfaction and for measurable academic improvement. Design: One hundred fourteen students registered in first-year pathology Medicine 102 had 8 of 16 lecture sessions reviewed in specially designed content-relevant digital games. Performance scores to relevant content sessions were analyzed at midterm and final examinations. Seventy-one students who registered in second-year pathology Medicine 202 were exposed to the games only during the final examination, with the midterm examination serving as an internal matched-control group. Outcome measures included performance at midterm and final examinations. Paired 2-tailed t test statistics compared means. A satisfaction survey questionnaire of yes or no responses analyzed student engagement and their perceptions to digital game-based learning. Results: Questions relevant to the game-play sessions had the highest success rate in both examinations among 114 first-year students. In the 71 second-year students, the examination scores at the end of the final examination were significantly higher than the scores on the midterm examination. Positive satisfaction survey noted increased student engagement, enhanced personal learning, and reduced student stress. Conclusions: Specially constructed digital games-based learning in undergraduate pathology courses showed improved academic performance as measured by examination test scores with increased student satisfaction and engagement.