Using gamification to improve engagement and learning outcomes in medical microbiology: the case study of 'BacteriaGame'

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2023 Jan 17;370:fnad034. doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnad034.


The fight against antibiotic resistance has become a true global public health challenge of gargantuan proportions. Amongst the myriad of approaches being explored to tackle this predicament, one strategy involves enhancing prescriber knowledge and in particular their basic knowledge of medical bacteriology. Yet, as we well know in medical microbiology teachings, traditional lectures can be arduous, attempting to cram in a vast array of information in a limited time. An alternative solution to improve student engagement and enhance learning outcomes is to utilize educational games in complementary approach. Such games are an effective means of inspiring students to learn, encouraging self-assessment, and injecting diversity into the teaching process. To this end, we have developed and evaluated an educational card game, the 'BacteriaGame,' aimed at our medical students in medical bacteriology. Designed for students at the basic level, it serves as activity at the end of their apprenticeship to their bacteriology education. Additionally, it can also be used as a review tool by more advanced students, with teachers able to impart additional knowledge as the game progresses. We also use it in continuous training of medical laboratory staff. In this study, we evaluated the game at various stages of medical education, collecting feedback and analysing its impact on knowledge acquisition, comparing it to traditional lectures. Feedback from the majority of students revealed that the rules were clear, the game was enjoyable, and neither too lengthy nor too challenging. The integration of 'BacteriaGame' into their future training piqued their interest. In terms of learning outcomes, we discovered a significant increase in knowledge acquisition among those who used the game (P < .05). 'BacteriaGame' is now published by the French Society of Microbiology (SFM) and distributed in all medical and pharmacy schools thanks to a funding of the French Health Ministry. An English edition of the game is also available for international use as a physical copy to be purchased from the SFM. This will allow a large-scale distribution to colleagues who would like to use this game in their teaching.

Keywords: bacteriology; educational game; knowledge acquisition; student engagement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Gamification
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Students, Medical*