"Is there life on Mars?": Gamification of evidence-based practice (EBP) learning at Macquarie University

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Objectives: Use the principles of gamification (defined goals, scoring, feedback and choice) to embed EBP learning activities for undergraduate students enrolled in a new Bachelor of Clinical Science program in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The interactive game, Mission to Mars, uses a fictional scenario to engage students in critical thinking strategies and skill development, in identifying different levels of evidence within an EBP program.

Methods: The project team, led by Librarians, included clinical, educational, gaming and information technology experts. A non-human disease was created as the scenario so students would have no prior knowledge of the illness. A pathogen that is transferred from bees to humans on the planet Mars formed an intriguing context. The game required students to navigate each level of an evidence pyramid by successfully completing tasks that tested their knowledge of clinical study designs before proceeding to the next level and eventually eradicating the disease. Tasks consisted of multiple choice questions, cloze tests and matching activities. The final version of the game was piloted with Library staff and university students, before being added to the EBP module of the clinical science Moodle platform. Each student undertook the game after completing all of the related EBP learning activities included in the module.

Results: Students posted to the online forum a reflection on the value of the game to their EBP knowledge and to their future careers. Reflective feedback indicated an appreciation of the game’s role in reinforcing EBP principles in a stimulating, enjoyable format and promoting EBP learning within clinical and research contexts. Students began to understand how EBP principles could be applied to a clinical scenario to solve a problem. Recommendations for improvement of the game included increasing task difficulty and varying the nature of tasks. Librarians noted that technical issues which may have impeded the seamlessness of the game should be reviewed in the next version.

Conclusion: Mission to Mars actively engaged students in basic EBP concepts and furthered their understanding of their role in developing clinical and research skills. The use of gamification principles provided a new context for creating relevant, innovative ways to introduce EBP concepts to undergraduate students. The ability of the game to incorporate clinical applications of the learning activities increased students’ appreciation of the value of EBP to clinicians.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2017
EventMLA 2017; Dream, Dare, Do. : Medical Library Association 117th Annual Meeting and Exhibition; - Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, United States
Duration: 26 May 201731 May 2017


ConferenceMLA 2017; Dream, Dare, Do.
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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