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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 97-98

Pilot evaluation of medical student perception of a novel pharmacology-based role-play game: Braincept

Keele Medical School, Keele, Newcastle ST5 5BG, UK

Date of Web Publication13-Jul-2017

Correspondence Address:
Russell Crawford
Keele Medical School, Keele, Newcastle ST5 5BG
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_278_15

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How to cite this article:
Aynsley S, Crawford R. Pilot evaluation of medical student perception of a novel pharmacology-based role-play game: Braincept. Educ Health 2017;30:97-8

How to cite this URL:
Aynsley S, Crawford R. Pilot evaluation of medical student perception of a novel pharmacology-based role-play game: Braincept. Educ Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Jun 6];30:97-8. Available from:

Dear Editor,

We would like to share with you our progress in adopting a gamification approach to support pharmacology learning in medical students. Here, we focus on player-perceived benefits when learning pharmacology using the game. This work complements our ongoing research exploring the impact on knowledge and translation of learning through this manner into practice. Gamification in higher education is a relatively new (in the last decade) application of a trend widely used in higher education to support small group learning.[1] One significant benefit to game-based approaches is that games have an intrinsic motivation inbuilt through their structured, goal-oriented play that facilitates continual engagement with the subject, which can be a powerful aid to learning.[2]

The impetus for our intervention came from in-house evaluation data showing that pharmacology knowledge was perceived as a weakness by our students, with nearly 56% indicating a lack of confidence in this area. In response, we designed a physical team-based game to draw on well-established adult learning pedagogy, where players must work as a collaborative team to solve a pharmacological issue by utilizing prior knowledge of drug mechanisms and side effects. This game encourages community learning and player communication to increase confidence in pharmacological knowledge, which is why our pilot data focused on player perceptions of confidence.[3]

We explored player perceptions of the Braincept™ game by running a series of voluntary drop-in sessions for year 2 and year 3 medical students. In total, 16 year 2 and 28 year 3 students completed an anonymous evaluation questionnaire responding to questions using a 5-point Likert scale, with space for free-text comments, to collect information on perceptions of confidence before and after playing the game.[4] All the 2nd year students and 92% of 3rd year students positively evaluated and enjoyed playing Braincept™. To better ascertain perceptions, students were asked how confident they felt about the subject before and after playing; with 65% of students initially reporting a lack of confidence, and the remaining students feeling mostly neutral.

After playing Braincept™, there was a strong increase in perceived confidence across both year groups, with 80% of year 2 and 82% of year 3 students indicating that they felt more confident in their pharmacology knowledge. Free-text comments included: “very good way to learn pharmacology;” “really enjoyed playing as a team, made more active interesting learning + makes pharmacology more interesting and less daunting,” and “mechanisms seem to have stayed in my mind.”

Our work suggests that a game-based approach has the potential to benefit learning of a traditionally student-perceived “difficult” subject. We are currently assessing the impact of Braincept™ on pharmacology knowledge beyond perception of confidence to translation into skills.[5]

Financial support and sponsorship

Braincept was funded by an UNLtd Social Enterprise grant to develop the tool. We thank UNLtd for their financial support.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Nevin CR, Westfall AO, Rodriguez JM, Dempsey DM, Cherrington A, Roy B, et al. Gamification as a tool for enhancing graduate medical education. Postgrad Med J 2014;90:685-93.  Back to cited text no. 1
Iosup A, Epema D. An Experience Report on Using Gamification in Technical Higher Education. In Proceedings of the 45th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education; 2014. p. 27-32.  Back to cited text no. 2
Wood LC, Teräs H, Reiners T. The role of gamification and game-based learning in authentic assessment within virtual environments. In: Frielick S, Buissink-Smith N, Wyse P, Billot J, Hallas J and Whitehead E, editors. 36th HERDSA Annual International Conference. Jul 1-4 2013, pp514-523. Aukland, New Zealand: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2013. p. 514-23.  Back to cited text no. 3
Likert R. A technique for the measurement of attitudes. Arch Psychol 1932;140:1-55.  Back to cited text no. 4
Banfield J, Wilkerson B. Increasing student intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy through gamification pedagogy. Contemp Issues Educ Res 2014;7:291-8.  Back to cited text no. 5

This article has been cited by
1 Evaluating student perceptions of using a game-based approach to aid learning: Braincept
Sarah A. Aynsley,Kusum Nathawat,Russell M. Crawford
Higher Education Pedagogies. 2018; 3(1): 70
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


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