Increasing student engagement and comprehension of the global water cycle through game-based learning in undergraduate courses

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Understanding the global water cycle is fundamental to Earth systems literacy and fostering an informed citizenry; however, students often struggle with terminology, the role of key processes, and estimating the physical and temporal scales, leaving knowledge gaps that impair comprehension. The Hydrologic Cycle Game is a pedagogical tool for teaching students about the global water cycle through game-based learning. It familiarizes students with terminology related to transport, fluxes, and storage, using box models to understand complex cycles and visualize invisible processes, and introduces students to the concept of residence time. It was developed for university undergraduates but could be used in other educational settings. When deploying this activity in-class, it is helpful to introduce students to the vocabulary and the concept of box models prior to game play; a short lecture or prerecorded video was sufficient. One game typically takes 5–10 min to play, and, in the author’s experience, engagement increases when students have the opportunity to play multiple times. Student comprehension of terminology, connections, and directions of flow was assessed using pre and posttests. Scores increased significantly (p < 0.05) after gameplay with a large effect size (d > 0.8), and learning gains persisted through mid-semester evaluations. The data collected indicate that the Hydrologic Cycle Game is an effective tool for teaching the global water cycle. Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/10899995.2021.1977030.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-175
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Volume70
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Hydrologic cycle
  • active learning
  • game-based learning

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