Me, A Doc! is a serious medical diagnosis role-playing simulator program in a video game interface that aims to improve high school and college student learning about the biology of disease in a way that fosters critical thinking and reduces the achievement gap often seen with minority or disadvantaged students - goals of the NIH. Players assume the role of a doctor who takes histories, makes diagnoses, and, ultimately, recommends treatments. In each case, players ask questions to learn symptoms, do exams to obtain signs, and order laboratory tests. Using evidence-based inquiry in a virtual library, the player reaches a diagnosis, answers a series of Socratic feedback learning questions that clarify and stimulate thinking, and then, during an epilogue, learns the outcome for each case. The approach, which partners library inquiry, evidence-based reasoning, literacy scaffolding, and feedback learning, is designed to educate high school students, undergraduate students, and others contemplating a health professions career about the diagnosis of disease and medically related biology. A prototype of Me, A Doc! was developed during Phase I and evaluation showed that students warmly welcomed the program, used evidence-based reasoning to sort through complex information and arrive at a diagnosis, and learned about medical science during the process.
Aims for Phase II are: (1) improve the program infrastructure, expand program capabilities, and manage new extensions;(2) develop a prioritized list of chief complaints associated with common diseases, and create supporting library files and definitions;(3) develop new cases from these disease-related files;(4) monitor development of the resulting cases with focus groups and conduct a controlled evaluation;and (5) evaluate commercialization strategies, identify and develop partnership arrangements for marketing and distribution to schools and colleges, and design a marketing and dissemination campaign for licensing individual use. Evaluation with 600 students (high school and college) in class and working individually outside of class will involve two pre-tests to assess the effect of test-taking on knowledge gain and a post test to assess the effect of the program on knowledge gain, attitude, interest, and motivation. Prior results with a similar approach suggest that Me, A Doc! will result in knowledge gain, promote critical thinking, and reduce the achievement gap seen too often in the performance of students differing in race/ethnicity, educational background, and socioeconomics - all while generating strong student appreciation and support.
Consistent with the goals of the Funding Opportunity Announcement, Me, A Doc! is a new, discovery-oriented educational software program that will provide technology and tools for high school and undergraduate students to learn about human disease and related biology in an engaging and motivating way. Designed for use in classrooms or by individuals with computers or tablets, this interactive learning tool can be disseminated widely and will lead to enhanced health science literacy of students and the public.