Innovation Meets Tradition in Research in Critical Thinking and Technology


Rebecca Kirstein, Instructional Designer, Technology Services, Meredith College and Susan G. Fisher, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, Department of Nutrition, Health and Human Performance, Meredith College, 2014


Questions arise from a course taught by two different methods. The first method is a traditional brick and mortar lab classroom with minimal technology other than the food preparation appliances.  Students work in a kitchen lab in groups to complete 12 labs that demonstrate Food and Nutrition principles. In the other teaching method, the students work from home in their kitchens to illustrate the principles. Given the option to work in groups, very few did. They video their lab and produce videos to share with the professor and class.  Our questions would include 1. Would the learning levels and outcomes be consistent in both methods? 2. Do the students reach a higher level of critical thinking due to the increased use of technology?

Link to paper

Research presented at :

8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium 2015

Simulated Global Pandemics: Using the Game Plague, Inc. as a Pedagogical Tool to Teach Basic Epidemiological Concepts


Carolina PerezHeydrich, Ph.D., MPH, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC, Dr. Jason Andrus, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC and Rebecca Kirstein, Instructional Designer, Technology Services, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC, 2017


Plague, Inc. Evolved (Ndemic Games) is a pandemic simulation game where players attempt to win the game by evolving amicrobial pathogen to eliminate all humans on the planet. This study evaluated using Plague, Inc. as a student-centered active learning tool to introduce students to epidemiologic concepts. Forty-four students enrolled in an undergraduate microbiology class without prior instruction in epidemiology worked in small groups consisting of 34 members. Groups were given packets with instructions to collect game statistics related to incidence, case fatality, and pathogen-related traits while playing the game. Pre and post game assessments addressed a basic understanding of epidemiologic concepts such as virulence, transmission, and public health control measures using CDC information packets. Responses to pre and post test questions were scored using rubrics designed to assess student learning outcomes. Additionally, student surveys designed to measure student engagement and enjoyment were deployed upon completion. Eighty-one percent of students reported that they enjoyed using the game to explore epidemiology, and 93 percent reported that they felt the activity improved their understanding of basic epidemiologic concepts. The Plague assignment was associated with significant improvement in the quality of responses associated with two out of four higher level critical thinking questions and overall assessment scores. No significant improvements were observed for responses associated with information gathering and basic knowledge. Overall, use of the Plague, Inc. gaming environment as a student-centered active learning tool was found to be effective at introducing basic epidemiologic concepts to undergraduate students.

Poster Presentation

2018 ASPPH Annual Meeting and the 2018 Undergraduate Public Health and Global Health Education Summit

Link to poster