The Playground Game: Inquiry‐Based Learning About Research Methods and Statistics

Wim Westera, Aad Slootmaker, Hub Kurvers

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Article in proceedingAcademicpeer-review

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    The Playground Game is a web-based game that was developed for teaching research methods and statistics to nursing and social sciences students in higher education and vocational training. The complexity and abstract nature of research methods and statistics poses many challenges for students. The Playground Game aims to address this issue and bridge the gap between theory and practice by providing students with a playful practical problem case that they have to analyse and evaluate: the player’s task is to make substantiated judgements about a study that was carried out to decide upon the most suitable location for laying out a children’s playground in a fictitious town. This paper reports about the evaluation of the Playground Game among 103 students of the bachelor psychology programme from Leuven University. A pre-questionnaire preceding the game was used to collect information about the students´ individual characteristics and included a self-assessment. A post-questionnaire collected the students´ appreciations and comments, and included the same self-assessment as well as five additional test questions. This set-up allowed us to not only collect the players’ judgements and appreciations about the game, but also to assess achieved learning gains. All student activities were carried out online. As an additional step we have set up a quasi-experiment for exploring to what extent score mechanisms and audio cueing could be used for influencing (reducing) the players’ trial-and-error behaviours. The students were randomly distributed over 4 groups each of which was linked to a different version of the game. We implemented two different game score mechanisms and either used short audio cues indicating a correct or incorrect decision, or omitted these. Technically the Playground Game was implemented on the EMERGO platform, which is an open source educational gaming platform developed by the Open University of the Netherlands ( The game (so far only a Dutch language version is available) is an outcome of the CHERMUG project (Continuing and Higher Education in Research Methods Using Games), which was sponsored by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication8th European Conference on Games Based Learning
    Subtitle of host publicationVolume 2
    EditorsC. Busch
    Place of PublicationReading (UK)
    PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Ltd.
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Print)978-1-63439-538-0
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2014


    • serious
    • gaming
    • statistics
    • methods
    • evaluation
    • cueing
    • incentives
    • score


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