Promoting learning of biomechanical concepts with game-based activities

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Many students avoid or withdraw/drop out of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors (including biomechanics) due to anxiety about science and mathematics. Physics education research has documented that many students fear and dislike university physics and these negative perceptions persist even after the course is completed (Docktor & Mestre, 2014; McDermott, 1991). This parallels the anxiety and negative perception of biomechanics held by many kinesiology/sport and exercise science majors (Hamill, 2007; Wallace & Kernozek, 2017) often resulting in poor student mastery of concepts and high dropout, fail, and withdrawal rates for the course. To address this anxiety and improve their academic performance, extensive physics education research has been conducted, with large improvements in learning reported for active learning approaches compared to traditional lecture (Bao & Koenig, 2019; Beichner et al., 2007; Hake, 1998). The evidence for the greater university student engagement and effectiveness of active learning across many fields of education and science is compelling (Driessen et al., 2020; Freeman et al., 2014; Prince, 2004; Springer et al., 1999) and evidence for the efficacy and utility of specific active learning techniques has been summarised in a systematic review (McConnell et al., 2017). Sports biomechanics scholars have consistently reported 15–48% greater mean student learning of sport and exercise biomechanics concepts with active learning approaches compared to traditional lecture alone (Knudson, 2019; Knudson & Wallace, 2019; Riskowski, 2015). There is also evidence that these benefits to learning can be obtained from both low-tech and high-tech approaches (Knudson, 2019; Knudson & Wallace, 2019; Soneral & Wyse, 2017). There is one area, however, where potential improvements in student engagement and learning of biomechanics has not been explored. This area is the use of game-based learning activities. Game-based learning activities are another way to provide interactive and engaging learning activities that sports science university students enrolled in biomechanics courses feel would improve their learning, especially when taught in a blended learning environment (Keogh et al., 2017). This editorial summarises the research on game-based learning for university students and recommends university-level biomechanics educators try these methods and document their effects on improving student learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalSports Biomechanics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2021

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