Teaching with Games: Online Resources and Examples for Entry-Level Courses

Teed, R. Wright State University, Geology Department, Dayton, OH 45435,Manduca, C.Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, Northfield, MN 55057

Using games to teach introductory geoscience can motivate students to enthusiastically learn material that they might otherwise condemn as “boring”. A good educational game is one that immerses the players in the material and engages them for as long as it takes to master that material. There are some good geoscience games already available, but instructors can also create their own, suitable to their students and the content that they are teaching.

Game-Based Learning is a module on the Starting Point website for faculty teaching entry level geosciences. It assists faculty in using games in their teaching by providing a description of the features of game-based learning, why you would use it, how to use games to teach geoscience, examples, and references. Other issues discussed include the development of video games for teaching, having your students create educational games, what makes a good game, handling competition in the classroom, and grading. The examples include descriptions of and rules for a GPS treasure hunt, a geology quiz show, and an earthquake game, as well as links to several online geological video games, and advice on how to design a paleontology board game.

Starting Point is intended to help both experienced faculty and new instructors meet the challenge of teaching introductory geoscience classes, including environmental science and oceanography as well as more traditional geology classes. For many students, these classes are both the first and the last college-level science class that they will ever take. They need to learn enough about the Earth in that one class to sustain them for many decades as voters, consumers, and sometimes even as teachers. Starting Point is produced by a group of authors working with the Science Education Resource Center. It contains dozens of detailed examples categorized by geoscience topic with advice about using them and assessing learning. Each example is linked to one of many modules, such as Game-Based Learning, Interactive Lectures, or Using an Earth History Approach. These modules describe teaching tools and techniques, provide examples and advice about using them in an introductory geoscience class, and give instructors details on how to create their own exercises.