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The CHERMUG games are a series of digital mini-games which have been designed to provide activities to support college and university students taking introductory modules on research methods and statistics. The games cover both quantitative and qualitative approaches to research and characterise the research process as a cyclical problem solving process with different activities and tasks which are carried out at different stages in the research cycle. The quantitative and qualitative games highlight different aspects of the research cycle. The games are primarily aimed at nursing and social science students but the content, which is about diet, is of general interest and could be used by students in other subject disciplines including science, business and IT.

On the website you can find:

The 4 CHERMUG videos

These explain how you might use the CHERMUG games in teaching research methods and statistics. Links to the videos are as follows:

1. CHERMUG Games Introduction

2. What are CHERMUG games?

3. Why CHERMUG games?

4. How to use CHERMUG games

The CHERMUG games

  • The CHERMUG quantitative mini-games
  • The CHERMUG qualitative mini-games

Support for the CHERMUG games

  • Tutor pedagogical guide
  • Student pedagogical guide
  • 6 Best Practice Case Scenarios
  • 6 Use Case Scenarios
  • 3 newsletters

The CHERMUG project public deliverables

These are the documented outcomes of the design, development and evaluation stages of the CHERMUG project.

Introduction

The CHERMUG project aims to develop a game to support students as they develop an understanding of research methods and statistics. The inductive and hypothetico-deductive reasoning that underlie research methodology require logical reasoning and critical thinking skills that are core competences in developing a more sophisticated understanding of the world. These higher level thinking skills provide the fundamental skills base required to tackle the ill-defined problems that we face in the 21st century. The CHERMUG project fits very well with the EU 2020 Strategy “New Skills for New Jobs” and the General Priorities of LLP, which aims to promote the acquisition of key competences throughout the education and training system. More specifically using games to teach methods and statistics fits with the acquisition of:

  1. Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology.
  2. Digital competence and
  3. Learning to learn.

These are key generic skills that are core competences for students across a wide range of disciplines including science, social science, business and IT. In recognition that the skills-based approach to learning has been implemented more successfully in schools than in tertiary education, the current project aims to use an engaging approach to teach these skills to students in higher education and vocational training.

Research methods and statistics pose significant challenges for many students. The material is challenging because it is highly abstract and requires the coordination of different but inter-related issues that are all necessary to develop a coherent and usable skills base in this area. Students have to develop an understanding of how to formulate hypotheses, identify, define and operationalise relevant variables, select an appropriate design to examine links between variables, identify an appropriate sample of participants, select informative and suitable methods of data analysis, collect and analyse data, identify relevant ethical issues and interpret and discuss the findings.

There has recently been an upsurge of interest in using games for learning. This has emerged from optimism that the motivating features that are evident in entertainment games could also be deployed to motivate learning. However, games also offer methods of learning that are highly consistent with modern theories of effective learning, which propose that learning activities should be active, situated, problem based, interactive, socially mediated, etc. It is acknowledged that a major constraint in introducing games into the curriculum is identifying the relevance of the game to the curriculum (Kirriemuir and McFarlane, 2004). To be successful the affordances offered by a game have to match the desired learning outcomes.

It is proposed here that a games-based approach to teaching methods and statistics is worth exploring for several reasons. Games offer a range of features that could be usefully deployed in teaching methods and statistics. Killi (2005) argued that games can offer players support by providing clarity about different stages in solving a problem. Games can provide clear goals, match challenges to the players’ skill level and provide immediate feedback about the correctness of the player’s response. Other ‘game features’ that could be incorporated into the game include the narrative structure of a game, competition, simulation and personalisation.

The students chosen for participation in this project are nursing and social science students in higher education and vocational training. Both groups of students are required to undertake teaching on research methods and statistics so that they can understand and evaluate research evidence, design effective research studies and apply their knowledge to their practice. However, research methods and statistics are also core competences across other subject disciplines including science, business and IT and, if successful, the game could easily be adapted for use across other disciplines by developing content relevant examples.