Nursing studies

Taking a playful approach to classroom learning

A board game based on Monopoly is helping children’s nursing students develop their communication, delegation and leadership skills while also having fun, and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard A board game based on Monopoly is helping children’s nursing students develop their communication, delegation and leadership skills while also having fun, and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.  
game

A board game based on Monopoly is helping childrens nursing students develop their communication, delegation and leadership skills while also having fun, and ensuring everyones voice is heard

Students do not always like speaking out in class. The more confident and spontaneous talkers can sometimes overshadow more reserved students, who prefer to let others talk while they think things through.

So when a group of third-year undergraduate childrens nursing students approached us wanting to address this, we set out to find ways to adapt our teaching methods that would encourage everyone to have an active voice.

Knowing the group well, we felt they would enjoy the challenge of taking a more playful approach to learning than usual. We were already planning a

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A board game based on Monopoly is helping children’s nursing students develop their communication, delegation and leadership skills while also having fun, and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard

play
The edge of the board has spaces with child nurse themes,
with the inside of the board representing a children’s ward.

Students do not always like speaking out in class. The more confident and spontaneous talkers can sometimes overshadow more reserved students, who prefer to let others talk while they think things through. 

So when a group of third-year undergraduate children’s nursing students approached us wanting to address this, we set out to find ways to adapt our teaching methods that would encourage everyone to have an active voice.

Knowing the group well, we felt they would enjoy the challenge of taking a more playful approach to learning than usual. We were already planning a session on patient flow, ward management and delegation, so discussed the idea of applying elements of a game to learning with the group. 

Dynamic and fun

Various games were considered before we settled on Monopoly, a board game which everyone knew how to play. We thought the competitive, turn-taking dynamic would not only be fun but would also make expectations for individual contributions explicit.  

Planning the game included simulation principles, with the inside of the board representing a familiar children’s ward. The nine students, working in teams, then adopted various professional roles to manage the designated bed spaces. 

Just like Monopoly, players move round the edge of the board, landing on spaces with contemporary child nurse themes. If they land on a ‘patient card’ they are required to manage the patient’s condition, and there are also random ‘chance event’ cards.  

The students surprised themselves with the extent to which they advocated for their patients and protected allocated bed spaces, and found the game fun, interactive and educational. 

Vibrant atmosphere

As the game encouraged everyone to question each other, they also shared personal reflections of practice, justifying their knowledge and re-evaluating their understanding through discussion. Students said they valued the opportunity to learn without the stress of making mistakes in real-life patient situations. 

Feedback also included knowing ‘more about conditions’, appreciating ‘the importance of communication’, feeling ‘more comfortable delegating’ and more able to ‘consider possible situations we may face in future’. 

All our memories of playing the game are positive. As partners in learning, we created a vibrant atmosphere which seemed to reinforce the existing positive learning culture. Adopting a more natural coaching approach – which helped bring everyone into the discussion and continued long after the game session had ended – increased our satisfaction as facilitators of learning.


Bernadette Henderson and Melanie Webb are senior lecturers in children’s nursing at the University of Bedfordshire

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