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The use of educational game design and play in higher education to influence sustainable behaviour

Mercer, Theresa G.; Kythreotis, Andrew P.; Robinson, Zoe P.; Stolte, Terje; George, Sharon M.; Haywood, Stephanie K.


Theresa G. Mercer

Andrew P. Kythreotis

Zoe P. Robinson

Terje Stolte

Sharon M. George

Stephanie K. Haywood


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to discuss a novel life cycle approach to education for sustainable development (ESD) where the students become “design thinkers”. Design/methodology/approach: A case study on the creation, development and utilisation of educational games by university students is presented. We discuss the case study in the context of Kolb’s experiential learning and Dynamic Matching model, Perry’s stages of intellectual development and Beech and Macintosh’s Processual Learning model. The data used was from questionnaire feedback from the pupils that played the games and students that designed the games. Further qualitative feedback was collected from local schools involved in playing the games created by the students. Findings: Overall, the students responded positively to the assessment and would like to see more of this type of assessment. They enjoyed the creativity involved and the process of developing the games. For the majority of the skill sets measured, most students found that their skills improved slightly. Many students felt that they had learnt a lot about effectively communicating science. The school children involved in playing the student created games found them accessible with variable degrees of effectiveness as engaging learning tools dependent on the game. Originality/value: This paper contributes a new approach to ESD which incorporates learner-centred arrangements within a full life cycle of game creation, delivery, playing and back to creation. The games can be used as a tool for enhancing knowledge and influencing behaviours in school children whilst enhancing ESD capacity in schools. The assessment also helps forge important links between the academic and local communities to enhance sustainable development.


Mercer, T. G., Kythreotis, A. P., Robinson, Z. P., Stolte, T., George, S. M., & Haywood, S. K. (2017). The use of educational game design and play in higher education to influence sustainable behaviour. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 18(3), 359-384 .

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 21, 2016
Online Publication Date Mar 6, 2017
Publication Date Mar 6, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2016
Publicly Available Date Mar 6, 2017
Journal International journal of sustainability in higher education
Print ISSN 1467-6370
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 3
Pages 359-384
Keywords Educational games, Education for sustainable development, Student-led experiential learning, Environmental sustainability, Pro-environmental behaviour
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the author's accepted version of an article which has been published in: International journal of sustainability in higher education, 2017, v.18, issue 3.


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