Shroomroot: an action-based digital game to enhance postsecondary teaching and learning about mycorrhizae

Julia Amerongen Maddison, Maja Kržić, Sužanne Simard, Christopher Adderly, Samia Khan (Lead / Corresponding author)

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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The majority of terrestrial plants associate with fungi in symbiotic resource-exchange relationships called mycorrhizae. Because of the importance of these mycorrhizal systems to ecosystem functioning, it is crucial that future resource managers and scientists have a solid understanding of mycorrhizal ecology. Limited interest of postsecondary students in plants and fungi compared with animals, combined with difficulties visualizing below-ground processes, present challenges for learning mycorrhizal concepts. To address this, we created the digital, plant-ecology-centric, action-based game Shroomroot for use in a second year, postsecondary Introduction to Soil Science course. We then assessed effects of Shroomroot on students' knowledge acquisition and engagement with the topic of mycorrhizal ecology using a pre- A nd post-test evaluation. Students' knowledge of mycorrhizal ecology increased significantly after playing Shroomroot, and tended to increase more for items related to Shroomroot gameplay than in rewards-based game content. Student engagement with mycorrhizal content tended to increase after gameplay. These results suggest positive potential for action-based, plant-ecology-oriented digital games in a postsecondary science curriculum. Furthermore, greater understanding of mycorrhizae has the potential to improve our multifaceted relationships with the ecosystems upon which we depend.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Biology Teacher
Issue number1
Early online date21 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • action games
  • digital-game-based learning
  • Ecology
  • mycorrhizae
  • soil biology
  • symbionts
  • undergraduates


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