Using a digital escape room to engage first year pre-registration nursing students in evidence-based practice learning: a case study




evidence-based practice, healthcare students, virtual escape room, curriculum innovation, curriculum design


If health professionals are to deliver care which reflects the best evidence available, they need to develop an understanding of how to find, appraise and use research to inform their clinical practice.

A digital escape room activity was designed for a first-year undergraduate module, to develop nursing students’ skills in the first three stages of evidence-based practice: developing a question, searching and appraising the literature. The escape room was hosted on the university’s virtual learning environment.

The evaluation of the activity is based on the feedback from a digital survey used with three consecutive first year undergraduate cohorts (n = 83) and the staff involved in the design and delivery of the activity.

Over 99% of students found the activity fun, with over 90% declaring that it was more engaging and motivating than other group learning activities. Almost 90% of students were looking forward to completing another DER type activity.

The feedback indicates that both staff and students were motivated by the digital learning experience, with a positive impact on group engagement and students’ perception of learning.

Author Biographies

Pamela Donaghy, Liverpool John Moores University

Pamela Donaghy, MResPH, RGN, SCPHN and SFHEA, is a Senior Lecturer in nursing. With 10 years’ experience in higher education, she is committed to improving students’ engagement in and understanding of evidence-based practice.

Chris Gillies , Liverpool John Moores University

Chris Gillies, BSc Med and FHEA, is a Principal Learning Technologist and member of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), who works with academic staff to develop their practices. With 15 years’ experience as a teacher and learning technologist, he regularly presents at teaching and learning conferences on a wide range of technology enhanced learning topics.

Niall McCann, Liverpool John Moores University

Niall McCann, BSc, is a Learning Technologist and graduate in Cyber Security. Niall was awarded a Teaching and Learning Excellence Award for distance learning and has a special interest in Virtual Reality and Gamification, creating bespoke interactions using E-Learning authoring tools and VR experiences using game engine software. Niall is currently studying an MA in Immersive media.


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How to Cite

Donaghy, P., Gillies , C. and McCann, N. . (2023) “Using a digital escape room to engage first year pre-registration nursing students in evidence-based practice learning: a case study”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (27). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi27.1003.



Case Studies