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A paradigm shift for academia teaching in the era of virtual technology: The case study of developing an edugame in animal science


The lack of real-life experiences, such as handling livestock at a production facility (e.g., ranch), exists for a variety of reasons such as availability, liability, time, and cost, amongst others. As more students enter undergraduate animal science programs without prior exposure to animal handling, the necessity for more hands-on, real-life experiences has increased dramatically. Complementary, educational simulation games (edugames) might provide means to overcome the lack of “hands-on” experiential learning by providing similar interactions in a virtual context. The primary goal of this study was to document the design and construction phase of a virtual cattle-handling simulation (CowSim) edugame, and to analyse preliminary survey data. An association exists between students’ notion of cattle being mishandled (or not) depending on students’ previous opportunity to work with animals (χ2 P value = 0.0017). Furthermore, students with previous experience handling cattle did not feel more prepared to handle cattle after playing CowSim, but students with previous experience handling cattle indicated they learned more about cattle handling after playing CowSim. After playing the CowSim game, students were, in general, optimistic about their playing experience. They perceived the CowSim game was realistic enough to increase their preparedness towards handling cattle. Our findings suggested there is heightened interest was for the use of an edugame to help visualize difficult concepts. Virtual learning tools such as the CowSim edugame are essential for advancing animal science education through the integration of virtual technology. However, improvements are warranted in the CowSim to capture more realistic scenarios given the complexity of the simulation game.

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Correspondence to Luis O. Tedeschi.

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Human surveys were approved by Texas A&M University Institutional Review Boards #IRB2019-1086 M under the criteria for Exemption following 45 CFR 46.104.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Partially supported by the 2019 Texas A&M University’s Presidential Transformational Teaching Grant (PPTG) to promote faculty creativity in the pursuit of teaching excellence.

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Appendix 1. Pre-playing survey questionnaire

Pre-survey questions identified participants age, sex, level of education and asked these questions:

1. Have you worked with livestock (cattle, sheep, goats)? (yes/no)

  a. Rate your knowledge of cattle handling. (1–10)

  b. Rate your ability to handle cattle. (1–10)

2. Have you desired to gain cattle handling experience but not had an opportunity to practice in real life? (yes/no)

3. Please rank what you believe to be the leading factors of stress when handling cattle from the most important (1) to the least (5).

  c. Pressure zones

  d. Vocal expression

  e. Distance

  f. Environment

  g. Speed of approach

4. In general, do you believe that livestock animals are mishandled/mistreated?

5. Rank your experience as a computer programmer. (1–10)

6. When watching a movie, do you usually learn new information? (1–10)

7. When reading a book, do you usually learn new information? (1–10)

8. When playing a game, do you usually learn new information? (1–10)

Appendix 2. Post-playing survey questionnaire

The post-survey was used to help identify areas of improvement. The post questionnaire asked the following questions:

1. Rate your knowledge of cattle handling. (1–10)

2. Rate your ability to handle cattle (1–10)

3. Please rank what you believe to be the leading factors of stress when handling cattle from most (1) to least (5).

  a. Pressure zones

  b. Vocal expression

  c. Distance

  d. Environment

  e. Speed of approach

4. Do you feel you are more prepared to handle cattle in real life after playing the simulation game? (Yes/No)

5. Did you learn anything by playing the simulation game? (Yes/No)

6. Please rate how well the simulated scenarios captured reality (1–10)

7. Rate your interest in the simulation game. (1–10)

8. Do you feel more or less prepared to handle cattle after playing the simulation game? (1–10)

9. Do you want to see more edugames like this game, as a preparation tool for students? (1–10)

10. Would you like to learn how to develop games for computer programming/modeling? (1–10)

11. Do you believe that animal science students can benefit from virtual reality, augmented reality, or mixed reality technology used for teaching within a classroom setting. (Yes/No)

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Free, N., Menendez, H.M. & Tedeschi, L.O. A paradigm shift for academia teaching in the era of virtual technology: The case study of developing an edugame in animal science. Educ Inf Technol 27, 625–642 (2022).

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  • Augmented reality
  • Disruptive technology
  • Education
  • Technology adoption
  • Virtual reality