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The use of educational game design and play in higher education to influence sustainable behaviour

Theresa G. Mercer (Cranfield Institute for Resilient Futures, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)
Andrew P. Kythreotis (School of Geography and Planning and Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Zoe P. Robinson (Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment, School of Physical and Geographical Sciences, Keele University, Keele, UK)
Terje Stolte (Valcon A/S, Hørsholm, Denmark)
Sharon M. George (Department of Geography, Geology and the Environment, School of Physical and Geographical Sciences, Keele University, Keele, UK)
Stephanie K. Haywood (School of Engineering, University of Hull, Hull, UK)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 6 March 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss a novel life cycle approach to education for sustainable development (ESD) where the students become “design thinkers”.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study on the creation, development and utilisation of educational games by university students is presented. The paper discusses the case study in the context of Kolb’s experiential learning and dynamic matching model, Perry’s stages of intellectual development and Beech and Macintosh’s processual learning model. The data used were from questionnaire feedback from the pupils who played the games and students who designed the games. Further qualitative feedback was collected from local schools involved in playing the games created by the students.

Findings

Overall, the students responded positively to the assessment and would like to see more of this type of assessment. They enjoyed the creativity involved and the process of developing the games. For the majority of the skill sets measured, most students found that their skills improved slightly. Many students felt that they had learnt a lot about effectively communicating science. The school children involved in playing the student-created games found them accessible with variable degrees of effectiveness as engaging learning tools dependent on the game.

Originality/value

This paper contributes a new approach to ESD which incorporates learner-centred arrangements within a full life cycle of game creation, delivery, playing and back to creation. The games can be used as a tool for enhancing knowledge and influencing behaviours in school children whilst enhancing ESD capacity in schools. The assessment also helps forge important links between the academic and local communities to enhance sustainable development.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the following people for their assistance: Linda Love from the University of Hull for her help with organising the session at One Hull of a Rainforest (OHOAR), the East Yorkshire primary schools involved in the OHOAR scheme, the students from the 2012/2013 cohort on Human Impacts on the Environment module at Keele University, the Sustainability Hub at Keele University for hosting the student’s games and the Staffordshire primary schools involved in engagement days at the Sustainability Hub. They also thank the two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped greatly improve the manuscript.

Citation

Mercer, T.G., Kythreotis, A.P., Robinson, Z.P., Stolte, T., George, S.M. and Haywood, S.K. (2017), "The use of educational game design and play in higher education to influence sustainable behaviour", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 359-384. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-03-2015-0064

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited