The effect of using games in teaching conservation
Tan CKW., Lee JW., Hii A., Loo YY., Campos-Arceiz A., Macdonald DW.
© 2018 Tan et al. Games are an increasingly popular approach for conservation teaching. However, we know little about the effectiveness of the games on students' experiences and knowledge acquisition. Many current games are supplemental games (SG) that have no meaningful interaction with the subject matter. We adapted the experiential gaming (EG) model where students were immersed in goalorientated tasks found in real-life situations, and they tackled questions to complete actions for their main task. Classroom-based games were created for eight different conservation topics for an annual Wildlife Conservation Course and an annual Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice. Data were collected over two cycles, a total sample size of 55 multinational students. We used a combination of repeated-measures design and counterbalanced measures design; each student was subjected at least twice to each of the EG and didactic instruction (DI) treatments, and at least once to the SG approach. We compared students' perception, learning and behavioural responses to the treatments, including measures of student personality types and learning styles as explanatory variables. Findings revealed multiple benefits of the classroom EG compared to the DI approach, such as increased attention retention, increased engagement and added intrinsic motivation. The improved level of intrinsic motivation was mainly facilitated by increased social bonding between participants. Further, we show that this EG approach appeals to a wide range of learning styles and personalities. The performance of SG was generally intermediate between that of EG and DI. We propose EG as a beneficial complement to traditional classroom teaching and current gamified classes for conservation education.