Most of the development team working on the game, from left: Arne Thomas Nilsen, (Programmer and Media Analyst), Petter Mordt (Executive Programmer), Siril Grude (Pedagogical Designer and Media Analyst), Atle Lokken (Head of Department, NettOp), and Karsten Tillerli (Production Manager, web based nursing project)
NettOp, the web-based study unit of the University of Stavanger in Norway, is developing a video game to assist nursing students in learning to prepare proper drug dosages for patients.
According to university officials, nursing students must master proper drug dosage to pass an exam before receiving certification, but the subject often proves difficult for a significant portion of students. A single miscalculation results in failure.
“At the University of Stavanger, the students have three goes at handing in an exam paper without mistakes. The last few years the percentage of fails has been between 36 and 39 both for the first and second attempt.”
Atle Løkken, director of NettOp, said he believes the problem stems from most nursing students joining the program without being prepared for the complex calculations required within the profession.
“We don’t have much scientific verification, but we believe a major reason is that the students that want to be a nurse primarily are interested in and expect the human and social aspect of the profession and are not prepared for the math and science that indeed also come with it.”
Løkken said renowned American psychologist Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, the idea that there are a variety of intelligences that don’t necessarily trump one another, may account for why some nursing students struggle with the math of drug dosages.
“In Gardner’s theory, we may expect the nursing students to be predominantly more ‘visually’ and ‘socially intelligent’ than ‘mathematically,'” Løkken said. “This does not mean that ‘visually’ and ‘socially intelligent’ people can’t solve mathematical problems, it simply means that ‘socially intelligent’ individuals approach mathematical problems differently from how math is normally taught in academia by ‘mathematically intelligent’ instructors.”
Gardner also inspired Løkken and his team to use a video game to assist nursing students who struggle with the math.