• by Christina Fuchs
  • Jul 15, 2015

Gaming in Nursing Education

The Role of Active Learning in Today's Schools

The 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education, cautioned that much of nursing education failed to prepare students with critical decision-making skills that are integral to improving patient care in the evolving, complex healthcare setting. Instead, educators frequently focused solely on student memorization of acute nursing terms and concepts. The IOM committee recommended overhauling nursing curricula to educate students in new ways that mirror improvements in science and technology.

New research from Brigham Young University echoes this sentiment and confirms widely supported modern education theory that “the key to improving learning outcomes is to involve students actively in the learning process,” also called active learning. Active learning is defined as the process whereby students engage in activities, such as reading, writing, discussion or problem solving, that promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content.

In the last 25 years, instructors have shifted to this student-centered approach to instruction. A 2013-2014 survey of faculty by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies revealed that more than 80 percent of faculty surveyed now use class discussions, and just half use lectures in all or most of their courses, down from 55.7 percent in 1989-90,4 instead shifting to more interactive learning approaches.

DeVry Education Group’s edtech incubator, DVX Labs, develops active learning innovations at 1871®, Chicago’s membership-based entrepreneurial hub that provides resources for early-stage digital startups. In 2014, DVX partnered with Dr. Leila McKinney, former president of Chamberlain’s Atlanta campus, to pilot a nursing video game, now called PharmaCollegē, to help students learn about pharmacology in a simulated, low-risk environment. 

Active LearninhIn 2014, DeVry Education Group announced the decision to create Engaged Learning Technologies, an internal department with the sole focus of developing educational games and simulations for its institutions. 

Led by Ramin Nadaf, Vice President of Product Development at Becker Professional Education, Engaged Learning Technologies creates the infrastructure, resources and processes for scalable design as well as the development of game-based engaged learning tools and technologies serving all institutions, including Chamberlain. Dr. McKinney is director of the department. In this role, she is responsible for the planning, organization and implementation of engaged learning products. 

With support from DVX, Engaged Learning Technologies and Dr. McKinney, Chamberlain has been at the forefront of exploring and developing ways to apply these concepts to nursing education to improve student engagement and outcomes. 

By creating engaging classroom environments focused on active learning, Chamberlain empowers students to ask questions, make mistakes and challenge what they’re learning. This open environment cultivates student curiosity, which can be essential to the continued progression of patient care. Students who are encouraged to bring a critical lens to their work ultimately impart that care to their patients.

Together, DVX and Chamberlain leaders continually explore the latest innovations and approaches to active learning, including the use of educational technology like gamification, to advance students’ education experiences. Gamification, specifically, is an active learning concept that allows students to engage directly with course material through educational games and simulations. 

Studies show that students who participate in risk-based learning games experience improved cognitive processes and retention of information. Global gamification is expected to grow with an increase in the use of gaming in education, and projected increased acceptance of gamification in higher education. Chamberlain is a pioneer in this movement.

Though relatively new to healthcare, gamification is not new to most nursing students, many of whom are Millennials who have grown up in a culture driven by technology. Gaming enables advanced education at all levels that equips nurses with the tools to transform healthcare by providing opportunities for them to hone their knowledge and skills through an interactive medium. 

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