The Playground Game: Never believe what they are saying…

It cannot be denied that trusting other people is one of most shiny and favourable human features. Nevertheless, trust may easily turn into credulity and naivety, when people are trying to fool you or are trying to sell their misconceptions. It is a useful lesson for life to be critical about any statements and claims that suggest absolute truth. This holds even more for scientific claims made by experts.

 

The Playground Game is a web-based game that was developed for teaching a critical attitude in research methods and statistics to nursing and social sciences students. The topic includes various higher-level thinking skills that are considered relevant in the 21st century, e.g. information skills, logical reasoning skills and critical thinking skills. However, the complexity and abstract nature of research methods and statistics poses many challenges for students.

playground game

The Playground Game addresses this issue by providing students with a playful practical problem case that they have to analyse and evaluate. The player’s task is to decide upon the most suitable location for laying out a children’s playground in a fictitious town. The starting point of the game is a research report written by a consultant. This report, however, contains quite some flaws, some of which are manifest and some of which are obscured or subtle. The player’s task is to judge the correctness of the approach and the validity of the outcomes by interrogating the consultant and a contra-expert (both represented in interactive videos). Every now and then, however, both experts are talking nonsense.

 

This serious game exemplifies an inquiry-based learning scenario, implemented in an online multimedia setting.  It was implemented on the EMERGO game platform, which is an open source educational gaming platform developed by the Open University of the Netherlands.  The game was successfully  by bachelor students of psychology from Leuven University. The Playground 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.  A demo version of the Playground Game is available in Dutch.

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