Research Projects

My research investigates the design and efficacy of interactive media and visualizations in medical and biological education. My PhD dissertation focused on the design of game-based learning strategies for medical students learning human vascular anatomy and for undergraduate biology students who hold misconceptions about molecular environments. Specifically, I was interested in how game mechanics can be designed to promote productive negativity (i.e. learning from failure), which has been associated with increases in learning and engagement in both education and gaming. My PhD research was generously supported by a Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship.

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MolWorlds (as in “molecular worlds”) was designed for the complex problem of facilitating conceptual change about the emergent (random) nature of cellular processes at the molecular level; it does this by encouraging failure and negativity in the hopes of exposing students' misconceptions and helping them build up an understanding of these random processes through iterative experimentation. We compared learning outcomes and interactions with a similar non-game interactive simulation, and found that the game version encouraged more productive negativity and strategic style of gameplay, while the non-game encouraged exploration and experimentation of the learning material.


Gauthier, A., & Jenkinson, J. (2018). Designing productively negative experiences with serious game mechanics. Computers & Education, 127(2018), 66-89.

Gauthier, A., & Jenkinson, J. (2017). Serious Game Leverages Productive Negativity to Facilitate Conceptual Change in Undergraduate Molecular Biology: A Mixed-Methods Randomized Controlled Trial. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 7(2), 20–34. doi:10.4018/IJGBL.2017040102 

Gauthier, A., & Jenkinson, J. (2016). Serious Game Facilitates Conceptual Change About Molecular Emergence Through Productive Negativity (RCT). In T. Connolly & L. Boyle (Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th European Conference on Games Based Learning (pp. 844–852). Paisley, Scotland, UK: Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited.**

Gauthier, A., & Jenkinson, J. (2015). Game Design for Transforming and Assessing Undergraduates’ Understanding of Molecular Emergence (Pilot). In R. Munkvold & L. Kolås (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Games Based Learning (pp. 656–663). Steinkjer, Norway: Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited.

**This paper won Best PhD Paper award at the 10th European Conference on Games Based Learning


Vascular Invaders

We designed a hybrid serious game-study aid, Vascular Invaders, to help medical students gain knowledge of anatomical nomenclature, branching patterns, and spatial relationships of the human vascular system, through a 3D model-enhanced self-testing mechanism. We tested the benefit of the game design by comparing the game to a highly similar, non-game study aid. While the learning outcomes between groups were similar, it was found that interactions and performance in the game-study aid were predictive of outcomes, while there was no relationship between use and performance in the non-game group.


Gauthier, A., Corrin, M., & Jenkinson, J. (2015). Exploring the influence of game design on learning and voluntary use in an online vascular anatomy study aid. Computers & Education, 87(September), 24–34. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2015.03.017

Gauthier, A., & Corrin, M. (2013). Exploring How the Incorporation of Video Game Design Elements Into An Online Thoracic Vasculature Study Aid Affects Use Patterns of Undergraduate Anatomy Students. Journal of Biocommunications, 39(2), 50–56.


Other publications

Gauthier, A., Kato, P. M., Bul, K., Walker-Clarke, A., Dunwell, I., Lameras, P. (in press). Board games for health: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Games for Health.

Gauthier, A., Jantzen, S., McGill, G., & Jenkinson, J. (in press). Molecular Concepts Adaptive Assessment (MCAA) characterizes undergraduate misconceptions about molecular emergence. CBE Life Sciences Education.

Gentry, S., Gauthier, A., L'Estrade Ehrstrom, B., Alvarez, J., Wortley, D., van Rijswijk, J., Car, J., Lilienthal, A., Tudor Car, L., Nikolaou, C., Zary, N., (under review). Serious Gaming and Gamification interventions for health professional education. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Walker-Clarke, A., Kato, P. M., Gauthier, A., Papageorgiou, V., Lameras, P., Bul, K. (under review). A systematic review of non-medical interventions for patients with haemophilia.

Jenkinson, J., Jantzen, S., Gauthier, A., & McGill, G. (2016). The effect of attention cueing in molecular animation to communicate random motion. Earli Sig, (October), 96–98.