UQ adopts SAE student’s game First Session for psychologists

21st Sep, 2016   Feature story:

The Australian

21 September 2016

John Ross

When Ben Lovegrove started a degree in games development with creative media college SAE, he thought he would be developing amusements for fellow gaming enthusiasts. Instead, he found himself priming psychology postgraduates for their first encounters with clients.

In a case of students getting practical experience by helping students get practical experience, a 10-strong SAE team created instructional games for University of Queensland master of psychology students who are about to be unleashed on the clinic.

Lovegrove’s game, First Session, has been adopted by UQ, which has road-tested it in a clinical trial and is looking to commercialise it, along with four others.

“We were focused on trying to help confidence and conversational fluency,” says Lovegrove, who has now graduated.

“It gravitated towards simulation of actual conversations with a client. But it’s tricky to get a simulation of a free-flowing conversation.”

Instead, he adapted a genre known as choose-your-own adventure games, where players can select from pre-written dialogues.

“But I tried to better simulate the thought process that goes into the conversation by letting the players say exactly what they want.”

First Session helps students hone their interpersonal skills for interviewing patients. Other games train students in ethics, risk assessment, diagnosing psychological problems and psychometric assessment such as intelligence and personality tests.

The games give students feedback on their performance individually and in comparison with the class. UQ psychologist Gillian McGregor, who conceived the idea, says they take the anxiety and expense out of preparing for practicums.

She says students traditionally train through role-plays that take hours and require lecturers’ involvement. “It’s really labour-intensive and it’s hard for students to practise out of class.

“I thought, why don’t we see if we can use technology to bring the curriculum to students in their own home? When they relax at home their retention levels are higher because they’re less stressed.”

Colleagues urged her to approach SAE. “I thought, even if it doesn’t work for our students, the SAE students get a final-year project out of it.”

UQ’s seven-week clinical trial — which has been presented at a conference in Japan — found that students who used the games developed greater confidence in their clinical competence.

McGregor says as an educational tool, gaming differs from simulation in that it always includes a component of entertainment. “We know that when people are engaged, we see deeper learning,” she says.

From: The Australian

Licensed by Copyright Agency. You must not copy this work without permission.

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