“Game on!” Teaching gamification principles for library instruction to health sciences information professionals using interactive, low-tech activities and design-thinking modalities


  • Nicole Capdarest-Arest Head, Blaisdell Medical Library, University of California, Davis, CA https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0174-5587
  • Eugenia Opuda Dimond Library, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
  • Rachel Keiko Stark Library, Sacramento State University, Sacramento, CA




Teaching, Learning, Gamification, Instructional Design, Design Thinking


Background: Gamification is correlated with increased motivation and engagement of learners and is increasingly being incorporated into library instruction. Opportunities for librarians to learn and practice principles of gamification can be helpful for those desiring to integrate gamification into instruction. This report describes the development and delivery of an interactive special content session at MLA ’18, the 2018 Medical Library Association annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, focusing on principles of low-tech game design for health sciences library classroom instruction.

Case Presentation: The special content session, titled “Design, Play, Learn: A Special Content Session to Design a Game for Database Instruction,” was designed and delivered using multimodal instruction (e.g., flipped classroom, didactic component, active learning) that also incorporated principles of design thinking. A pre- and post-survey was given to all participants at the beginning and end of the session to measure confidence and desire to incorporate gamification into instruction and as a formative feedback indicator for instructors. Participants reported increased confidence and desire to use games for library instruction after participating in the session. A selection of games were uploaded to a shared content folder designed for course participants as an ongoing repository for ideas and communication.

Conclusions: For librarians who are interested in integrating principles of gamification into library instruction, attending a relatively short hands-on workshop can facilitate learning and confidence around prototyping and creating games for use in library instruction. We intend to improve upon the workshop and offer it again in additional contexts, based on direct observations of the session and participant feedback.


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Case Report