Study: Introducing play to higher ed reduces stress and forms deeper connection course material

A new study found higher education students are more engaged and motivated when they are taught using playful pedagogy rather than the traditional lecture-based method. The study was conducted by University of Colorado Denver counseling researcher Lisa Forbes and was published in the Journal of Teaching and Learning.

While many educators in higher education believe play is a method that is solely used for elementary education, Forbes argues that play is important in post-secondary education to enhance student learning outcomes.

Throughout the spring 2020 semester, Forbes observed students who were enrolled in three of her courses between the ages of 23-43. To introduce playful pedagogy, Forbes included games and play, not always tied to the content of that day’s lesson, at the start of each class. She then provided many opportunities for role-play to practice counseling skills, and designed competitions within class activities.

During the study, students mentioned they saw more opportunities for growth while learning in a highly interactive environment. Students also described that the hands-on nature of learning through play established a means for skill acquisition, and they were able to retain the content more effectively.

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