A digital game-based approach to conceptually understanding cellular metabolism

Research Committee

Dr. Derek Ng (Faculty Supervisor)

Dr. Sian Patterson & Dr. Roula Andreoupoulos (Content Advisors)

Dr. Jodie Jenkinson & Dr. Andrea Gauthier (Second/Third Voting Members)

Context & Visual Problem

Introductory biochemistry courses aim to provide students with a robust and integrated understanding of the glucose metabolism pathways. However, the passive and linear nature of existing teaching resources does not facilitate the achievement of instructors’ pedagogical goals (i.e. understanding how the products of one pathway can impact other pathways, the greater system at the cellular level, and at the organismal level). 

Serious Games as a Solution

Digital game-based learning (DGBL) is one active approach shown to facilitate learning—providing learners with an engaging environment that facilitates productive negativity. Productive negativity is potentially useful for learning glucose metabolism since it promotes the conceptual understanding of the pathways required for novel and clinical applications. However, the effectiveness of serious games and productive negativity has yet to be studied within the context of biochemistry.

I aim to develop a 2D computer game using the Unity gaming engine, and the Activity Theory Model for Serious Games (ATMSG) to improve undergraduate students' conceptual understanding of the relationships between glucose metabolism pathways. A game-trace layer will be added to the ATMSG such that the effectiveness of a game-based learning approach (specifically instances of failure) can be investigated and statistically analyzed in potential future studies.

Work currently in progress; more coming soon!