Laura Taylor

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, English as an Additional Language (EAL) Specialist, Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre, University of Toronto Mississauga

Title: Using Board Games as Tools for Learning in the University Classroom

Research Focus: There is a shift occurring in some university classrooms to move away from the passive style of instruction to a more engaged and active approach. One way to stimulate participation in these types of classes is through the use of games. In Game Based Learning (GBL), the game acts as an initial ‘learning concept,’ from which further related topics can be introduced. Because GBL encourages social interaction, it can be linked with the critical thinking process – a foundation of social constructivism. Additionally, GBL contributes to the scaffolding process of learning, a cooperative learning approach that can support students’ overall understanding. Using a first-year undergraduate class as the foundation, and with a participant group (n=35), this research project seeks to assess students’ perceptions of GBL in the classroom. It also attempts to determine whether the use of GBL assisted students in their understanding of particular course topics.

Study Design: I utilized three board games (Chinatown, Power Grid, and Pandemic) to teach course material related to intercultural communication on the topic of stereotypes, as well as to discuss concepts related to business and health. I assessed students on these topics through multiple choice and short answer questions that asked them to link outcomes from the GBL to theories and concepts that were foundational to the overall course. Written feedback was also collected from students at the end of the course.

Impact: While the analysis of the collected data is ongoing, preliminary findings indicate that students both enthusiastically participated in the activities and genuinely enjoyed the use of GBL in the classroom.

SoTL Cohort Poster presented at the 2019 Teaching and Learning Symposium

Laura Taylor poster image