I have already mentioned briefly that we have been working with our colleagues in the Department of Physiology at UCM’s Medical School. This collaboration goes back to around 3 years ago, when I met Lola Comas and Carmen Fernández Galaz at a focus group in the School of Education.
We spoke briefly about <e-Adventure>, the kind of games and simulations that could be created and we decide to meet later to discuss potential collaborations. In the end, we decided to create a brief simulation to rehearse the steps of a practical exercise in which the students have to measure Hematocrit levels in a blood sample. This practical exercise is performed once in the course, using blood samples from sacrificed laboratory rats. For this reason, students are not allowed to recreate the exercise out of the scheduled session.
The key idea of developing a simulation game covering the steps of the exercise is that students would be able to practice the exercise at their own pace before going to the lab, thus becoming familiar with the steps of the procedure and later on getting more profit out of the time-limited lab experience. In addition, the students would later be able to practice the virtual version of the exercise before the exam to refresh the procedure. The result is what we call the HTC game, a virtual practical exercise developed with <e-Adventure> using photographs of the actual workbench at the lab, and that can be directly deployed through the Virtual Campus at Complutense Unversity.
The results of the experience have been very interesting. We conducted an experiment separating the students into an Experimental and a Control Group, letting the former play a few days before the actual session and sending the latter directly to the lab. The students in the EC found the practical exercise easier, demonstrated a better grasp on the concept and even made fewer mistakes.
All in all, a great success that we reported an article submitted to the International Journal of Medical Informatics, which published the final version recently. Here is the full citation:
Pablo Moreno-Ger, Javier Torrente, Julián Bustamante, Carmen Fernández-Galaz, Baltasar Fernández-Manjón, María Dolores Comas-Rengifo: Application of a low-cost web-based simulation to improve students’ practical skills in medical education. Int. J. Med. Inform. Vol 79, pp. 459-467, (2010)
The article includes a link to download the game, which can also be found (in English and Spanish) in the <e-Adventure> website. In addition, if you don’t have access to IJMI, our self-archived copy of the draft is also available at the <e-UCM> website repository.