Research methods and statistics pose significant challenges for many students. The material is challenging because it is highly abstract and requires the coordination of different but inter-related issues that are all necessary to develop a coherent and usable skills base. Students have to develop an understanding of how to formulate hypotheses, identify, define and operationalise relevant variables, select an appropriate design and a sample of participants, collect and analyse data, identify relevant ethical issues and interpret and discus their findings.
In 2011 four GALA partners the University of the West of Scotland (coordinator), Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Open Universiteit Nederland, and Playgen together with Satakunta University of Applied Sciences and the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova successfully submitted the CHERMUG proposal to the Lifelong Learning Programme of the EU. The aim of CHERMUG –Continuing/Higher Education in Research Methods Using Games- as it acronym explains is to support the learning of introductory research methods and statistics to nursing and social science students by designing, developing and piloting a set of interconnected serious games. Meanwhile, the project is in its second year and the ongoing evaluations are positive and promising. In this blog we will introduce you to our games. We hope it will raise interest in our work.
The CHERMUG games
The CHERMUG games are online digital mini-games which have been designed to provide activities to support students as they learn about research methods and statistics. The games cover both quantitative (8 games) and qualitative research methods (3 games) and follow a research methods cycle which characterises the research process as a cyclical problem-solving process with different activities and tasks which are carried out at different stages in the cycle. Each game highlights specific aspects of the cycle.
The games are targeted at beginners and would be most useful for students who are taking an introductory module on research methods. The learner will need a basic understanding of terminology and concepts used in research methods before the games can be played.
The qualitative games are structured into three levels of difficulty. Level 1 is the introductory level where students develop an understanding of key differences between quantitative and qualitative approaches to research. At levels 2 and 3 players are presented with a specific research question and a brief account of the background surrounding it and they are required to carry out exercises relating to the selection of appropriate methods and samples and to carry out some simple data analysis. They also have to carry out some qualitative coding.
The CHERMUG quantitative games centre around hypothesis testing. In each game, 8 in total, the player is presented with a series of examples which help players to address the inter-related issues which must be considered in formulating and testing a hypothesis such as: identify the key variables for the study from a given scenario; what level of measurement is appropriate for a variable; formulate the null hypothesis; and identify/interpret correctly a statistical test.
The games can be played during a tutor-led laboratory session, where each game including e.g. a round-up discussion would comfortably fit into a one hour session. Alternatively, they can be played by students alone at home as an exercise to practice concepts learned in class or for self-study. The final version of the games will be available in English, Spanish, Dutch, Romanian, Finish, French and German. The games require no IT skills beyond being able to operate a web browser.
If you want more information or want to be involved – as a student, a teacher or an institute – do not hesitate to contact us. See www.chermug.eu for more information and information how to contact us.