Gamification Improves Histology Education in Dental and Medical School

Dentistry Today

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Introducing gamification to medical and dental education can boost student motivation and lead to better learning outcomes, according to the University of Eastern Finland, where students in a histology course used their own mobile devices to take trivia quizzes on human cells and tissues, promoting interaction and creating a positive learning atmosphere.

In 2016, the university reformed its histology curriculum and introduced a student-centered learning platform based on virtual microscopy, allowing students to examine whole-slide digitized tissue samples online. Classrooms also were equipped with large touchscreens so students could work in groups while analyzing virtual tissue samples. 

Recently, gamification was introduced to the histology course though Kahoot, a game-based quiz platform freely available on the internet. Kahoot enables professors to create trivia quizzes based on topics covered in the course, and students can take the quizzes on their mobile devices. Answers are submitted anonymously, and students get instant feedback.

The use of trivia quizzes in histology education is geared toward increased interaction, better remembering of things taught, and promoting general interest in the topic. Kahoot is a relatively rarely used tool in medical education.

The recent study sought to investigate whether digital trivia quizzes would have an impact on student grades in the histology course. Students’ grades were compared against the grades of students from the previous year, when the course was based on the same structure but without Kahoot. Students also completed a survey of their views of gamification in education.

Most students felt that Kahoot quizzes enhanced their motivation to learn and made it easier to understand difficult concepts. The opportunity to discuss the results with professors also was considered important. According to students, anonymous quizzes made it possible to test one’s own learning in a relaxed manner. 

Also, anonymous quizzes fostered collaboration, and students tended to perform better when working in groups rather than alone. Since introducing gamification to histology education, an increasing number of students have gotten a good grade in their final exam, though there hasn’t been a significant change in the mean grades. 

More than 200 first-year students in medicine and dentistry participated in the histology course in both years. About 160 students responded to the survey.

The study, “Using Online Game-Based Platforms to Improve Student Performance and Engagement in Histology Teaching,” was published by BMC Medical Education.

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