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Characteristics of Simulation Games in Edutainment

February 13, 2013

I chose simulation games to assess for learning characteristics. In particular, I focused on the patient simulation games that nursing students at my college use in their nursing education.

1. One main reason for this simulation in the nursing curriculum is for nursing students to learn real world problem solving skills in a safe environment (Reiber, 1996). The nursing professor creates a problem in the simulation patient. Nursing students then need to determine the cause and determine a course of action for patient care. Because this is a simulation, there is no possible harm to patients, and students learn about difficult situations that cannot be caused in a real patient such as a heart attack.  This form of problem solving in a safe environment is based on Cognitivism.

2. Simulation games on patients can be a great way for students to practice and repeat nursing procedures such as inserting an IV. It takes a lot of practice for nursing students to learn complex procedures, and there simply isn’t time in clinical practice for every student to have adequate practice time on real patients. This allows almost endless repeat practice sessions for students until they learn the procedure well. This form of practice and repeat is behaviorism (White, 2003).

3. When designing the activity and game aspects of the simulation, the nursing professor can build in rewards for the student nurses. These rewards provide additional motivation, as well as enforce proper procedures. Rewards can be as simple as a passing grade, or embedded within the simulation such as an improved patient outcome. Rewards and the resulting motivation and cognitive processing come from the Behaviorism learning theory (White, 2003).

4. A major characteristic of edutainment is participatory learning (Resnick, n.d.). The patient simulation is nothing if not participatory! Nursing students engaging in the simulated play participate in real-life nursing situations and care. They must participate within the simulation for the simulation to work; the simulation and leaner are mutually dependent on each other. This edutainment characteristic builds upon Constructivism learning theory.

5. Simulation play for nursing care helps the student identify and learn through their connections, making use of the Connectivism learning theory. Good edutainment such as this simulation make the learner identify and access outside connections for quality information (Siemans, 2005). In this case, the students work as a group to identify problems and solutions. They utilize information from their professor, coursework and professional health literature to learn to provide evidence-based healthcare.

Type Characteristic Description Learning Theory
Simulation Game Problem Solving Skills in a safe environment (Rieber, 1996) Nursing professor creates health problem in simulated patient. Nursing students then solve the problem: determine the cause, assess, and take corrective action. Real patients are not harmed through this critical learning process. Cognitivism
Simulation Game Practice and Repeat (White, 2003) Practice complex and unfamiliar nursing skills. Behaviorism
Simulation Game Rewards (White, 2003) Nursing students obtain rewards upon successful completion of simulation. Behaviorism
Simulation Game Participatory (Resnick, n.d.) Students must participate within the simulation to learn practice objectives. Constructivism
Simulation Game Access and use information resources within personal networks (Siemans, 2005) Nursing students must draw upon personal network of information to successful participate and complete simulation game. Connectivism


Resnick, M. (n.d.). Edutainment? No thanks. I prefer playful learning. Associazione Civita Report on Edutainment. Retrieved from

Rieber, L. (1996). Seriously considering play. Educational Technology Research and Development, 44(2), 43–58.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3–10.

White, R. (2003). That’s edutainment. White Hutchinson Leisure and Learning Group. Retrieved from

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