The creation and trial of a serious game to support teaching and learning of professional psychology competencies in postgraduate programs

Gillian McGregor, Emma Bartle


The education of healthcare professionals is critical for the safe delivery of services to patients (Ricciardi & de Paolis, 2014). Postgraduate psychology students undertaking a professional degree encounter a steep learning curve when transitioning from theoretical knowledge to professional practice. This beginning student stage of development is fraught with anxiety and high-stress levels, and has implications for both student and client wellbeing (Skovholt & Ronnestad, 2003). Successful navigation of this phase is critical to psychology graduate competence and employability, with potentially lasting consequences for psychologists’ perceptions of self-efficacy and career trajectory (De Stefano et al., 2007; Skovholt & Ronnestad, 2003). Serious games in health provide the potential for safe practice opportunities in an engaging and entertaining manner (Hawn, 2009; Knight et al., 2010). The author developed a serious game with the intention of providing postgraduate professional psychology students with increased and more convenient opportunity to practice psychological competencies. This paper synthesises game design theory into a prototype for educators to provide innovative solutions in a health context. It contributes to the body of research determining the efficacy of games in educational contexts and advances knowledge in the use of simulation pedagogies.


Education; Technology; Engagement, Clinical competence

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