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How to Create Effective Training Games

June 10, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 189

Don't overlook board games when creating activities for training purposes. These games are marvelous tools to impart knowledge and course participants will think they're just having a break from learning. In this article we will consider games that teach facts.

1. Targeting recall

Games that are based on information recall are most useful after a session where factual information has been discussed. Most people manage to retain facts for only a short time unless they are expected to put them to use immediately; "... quizzes a short time after initial learning significantly improves subsequent retrieval of facts and ideas, as well as overall understanding of topics and the ability to solve related problems," according to Luke Mastin on The Human Memory website. That's basically what a well-planned board or card game is doing - asking the trainee to retrieve facts and ideas.

More sophisticated games can act as formative assessment in that they can contain elements that guide learners toward information or answers as they learn. The players may be allowed to reference material they have not yet been exposed to, or to uncover areas where they need to find more/new information.

2. Dice and track games

In these games the player throws a dice and advances a counter along the track the number showing on the dice. If their counter lands on a question space on the board, they must answer the question correctly to stay on that space. If they fail to answer, they go back to where they were on the previous turn.

The questions can be written either on a reference list with the answers on the back, or written directly onto the board with an answer list as reference. Each segment of the track, or at least the questions, must be numbered. The questions should be easily answered with short answers.

The board may have single or multiple tracks depending on how many players will be using the game. If more than one track is used, the tracks must be divided into an equal number of spaces for counters to land on.

You can add another dimension to the game by awarding tokens for each agreed correct answer. Success can then achieved by either the player who gets 'home' first or the player at the end of the game with the greatest number of correct-answer tokens.

3. Card and track games

These games have a deck of printed cards with the facts you want recalled on one side and the answers on the back with a number. The players each have a counter that they advance along a segmented track. These segments don't need to be numbered because it is the points on the cards that make the play.

On their turn the player draws a card from the top of the pack - questions up and answers down. The player must not turn over the card until after they give an answer. To claim the number of points (forward spaces) written on the card, they must turn over the card and read the model answer out to the group. The group must agree that the player's answer is correct. In this way all players hear the question and the answer and must reason out whether the two answers mean the same thing. The whole group gets double-exposure to the information.

You can add an extra dimension to the competition by having a score card for each player where they record right and wrong answers and the actual value of the answers they answered correctly, and take away the value of the answers they got wrong. The game continues until all cards have been played or one player passes the 'finish line'.

4. Games to avoid

Avoid designing a game that penalizes trainees or singles out failures. Training games are teaching tools not tests so they must be fun to be effective. Always write clear step-by-step rules and then test on your friends or other tutors before introducing them to course participants.

Complicated games may end up distracting trainees from the learning because they will focus on getting the rules right rather than understanding the information.

To sum-up:

  1. Games that teach facts will aid recall if they are played soon after the facts have been shared.
  2. Group agreement with the answer exposes everyone to the correct answer.
  3. Decisions about the 'correctness' of an answer encourages debate and cements in the learning.
  4. Because games are seen as 'fun' they avoid resistance and boredom in the learner.

Heather Sylvawood is an educational and training resource developer who has created course resources for face-to-face and distance learning courses, including web-based and CD accessed training. She now runs a website called eBrainz ( ) where members of the public can have recreational and home-skill courses hosted for free. The suggestions above come from her experience designing many board games, card games and experiential games for courses designed for trainees in heavy industries.

Source: EzineArticles
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