The majority of terrestrial plants associate with fungi in symbiotic resource-exchange relationships called mycorrhizae. Because of the importance of these mycorrhizal systems to ecosystem functioning, it is crucial that future resource managers and scientists have a solid understanding of mycorrhizal ecology. Limited interest of postsecondary students in plants and fungi compared with animals, combined with difficulties visualizing below-ground processes, present challenges for learning mycorrhizal concepts. To address this, we created the digital, plant-ecology-centric, action-based game Shroomroot for use in a second year, postsecondary Introduction to Soil Science course. We then assessed effects of Shroomroot on students’ knowledge acquisition and engagement with the topic of mycorrhizal ecology using a pre- and post-test evaluation. Students’ knowledge of mycorrhizal ecology increased significantly after playing Shroomroot, and tended to increase more for items related to Shroomroot gameplay than in rewards-based game content. Student engagement with mycorrhizal content tended to increase after gameplay. These results suggest positive potential for action-based, plant-ecology-oriented digital games in a postsecondary science curriculum. Furthermore, greater understanding of mycorrhizae has the potential to improve our multifaceted relationships with the ecosystems upon which we depend.
Shroomroot: An Action-Based Digital Game to Enhance Postsecondary Teaching and Learning about Mycorrhizae
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Julia Amerongen Maddison, Maja Kržić, Suzanne Simard, Christopher Adderly, Samia Khan; Shroomroot: An Action-Based Digital Game to Enhance Postsecondary Teaching and Learning about Mycorrhizae. The American Biology Teacher 1 January 2018; 80 (1): 11–20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/abt.2018.80.1.11
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