Living world game to teach student nurses how to save lives

News Release — 19 August 2009


Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, 817-272-3317,

ARLINGTON - Judy L. LeFlore, associate professor of nursing at The University of Texas at Arlington, wants to find out if playing games can teach student nurses to save lives.

Judy LeFloreLeFlore is developing an undergraduate training program for student nurses to learn about pediatric respiratory disease using a living world gaming application with collaboration and technical support from the Institute for Interactive Arts and Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. The collaborative work is funded by a $250,000 Transforming Undergraduate Education grant from the UT System Board of Regents announced today. 

LeFlore, who is director of the pediatric and acute care pediatric nurse practitioner programs at UT Arlington, will create a virtual clinical environment for nursing students that will provide the most realistic experience possible, outside of a hands-on traditional clinical encounter. The living world game format is being developed by a design team led by Marge Zielke of the University of Texas at Dallas.

The proposed game will present the student with various pediatric scenarios with patients displaying symptoms that respond to student action and inaction. Students will need to assess the patient's condition, make judgments about care and implement those care decisions.

The teaching technique should be extremely effective with the generation of students born between 1982 and 1991, said LeFlore, who holds a doctorate in nursing.

"They have been called the Net generation. They have never not known computers," Le Flore said. "Yet most of our teaching methods address a generation that is no longer in school."

She hopes to have the game in use for the spring 2010 term. At the end of the course, the test performance of nursing students taught through the gaming technique will be compared to the performance of students who experienced traditional teaching situations.

The Transforming Undergraduate Education grants were authorized by the UT System Board of Regents to stimulate new teaching and learning methods, challenge the capabilities of students and increase cost efficiency and/or reduce instructional costs.

"These grants aim to transform undergraduate education by targeting the core experiences of teaching and learning: use of technology, curriculum reorganization, interdisciplinary practices, cutting-edge pedagogy - even new learning spaces," said Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, UT System chancellor.

Fifty proposals were considered for the competitive grants, which were narrowed to 11 winning entries using an expert panel from across the UT System. Project outcomes will be shared with all institutions throughout the System to help develop curricula and enhance efficiencies.


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