Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Computer game-based and traditional learning method: a comparison regarding students’ knowledge retention

Silmara Rondon1, Fernanda Chiarion Sassi1 and Claudia Regina Furquim de Andrade12*

  • * Corresponding author: Claudia Regina Furquim de Andrade

Author affiliations

1 Department of Physiotherapy, Speech-Language and Hearing Sciences and Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil

2 Rua Cipotânea, 51 – Cidade Universitária, CEP: 05360-160, São Paulo/S.P, Brazil

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:30  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-30

Published: 25 February 2013



Educational computer games are examples of computer-assisted learning objects, representing an educational strategy of growing interest. Given the changes in the digital world over the last decades, students of the current generation expect technology to be used in advancing their learning requiring a need to change traditional passive learning methodologies to an active multisensory experimental learning methodology. The objective of this study was to compare a computer game-based learning method with a traditional learning method, regarding learning gains and knowledge retention, as means of teaching head and neck Anatomy and Physiology to Speech-Language and Hearing pathology undergraduate students.


Students were randomized to participate to one of the learning methods and the data analyst was blinded to which method of learning the students had received. Students’ prior knowledge (i.e. before undergoing the learning method), short-term knowledge retention and long-term knowledge retention (i.e. six months after undergoing the learning method) were assessed with a multiple choice questionnaire. Students’ performance was compared considering the three moments of assessment for both for the mean total score and for separated mean scores for Anatomy questions and for Physiology questions.


Students that received the game-based method performed better in the pos-test assessment only when considering the Anatomy questions section. Students that received the traditional lecture performed better in both post-test and long-term post-test when considering the Anatomy and Physiology questions.


The game-based learning method is comparable to the traditional learning method in general and in short-term gains, while the traditional lecture still seems to be more effective to improve students’ short and long-term knowledge retention.

Speech; Language and hearing sciences; Anatomy; Physiology; Stomatognathic system; Learning; Computer-assisted instruction