Developing Game-Based Learning Approaches for Undergraduate Geoscience Education

Developing Game-Based Learning Approaches for Undergraduate Geoscience Education 

  • Professor Daniel Gregory, Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Arts & Science 
  • Professor Mark Laflamme, Department of Chemical and Physical Science, University of Toronto Mississauga  
  • Professor Melissa Anderson, Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Arts & Science 
  • Thomas Klubi, Learning Strategist and Program Manager, Robert Gilespie Academic Skills Centre


Game-based learning is an innovative teaching approach that promotes student engagement and active learning within a safe classroom environment. Our proposed project involves:  

  1. Creating game-enhanced learning environments using commercially-available discipline-specific cooperative board games in undergraduate Earth Sciences courses 
  1. Student-led development of a new board game to enhance Earth Science education via gamified mineral exploration 
  1.  Thorough assessment of learning outcomes to develop best practices for other applied science courses.  

Our model will produce and evaluate a novel teaching tool that will develop an active learning environment, encourage teamwork, improve problem solving, and build discipline-specific vocabulary in a fun, stress-free setting. Initially, several commercially-available games will be tested in an introductory geoscience course (ESS262H1) and a geoscience for non-science students seminar course (ESS198H1) to assess what features of different games are most effective for individual learning activities and content delivery in undergraduate teaching. Assessment of these outcomes will be used by a team of Research Opportunity Program students to design a new mineral exploration board game for classroom incorporation. This will be followed by play testing by different undergraduate clubs at U of T. The final version will then be tested by two groups of students, those with and without geological expertise, to assess learning outcomes for Earth Science at different educational levels.