African Journal of AIDS Research

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Use of a simulation game for HIV/AIDS education with pre-service teachers

Nadine Petersen, Josef de Beer, Helen Dunbar-Krige


The article describes the use of a simulation game in HIV/AIDS education with pre-service teachers in Johannesburg, South Africa. The use of a simulation game, as novel experiential pedagogy, was an attempt to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and to demonstrate that anyone can be at risk of HIV infection. Using a generic qualitative research design, the data were collected over a three-year period by way of video recordings of the simulation game, recordings of large and small group discussions afterwards, and via questionnaires and written reflections by the education students four weeks afterwards. Content analysis and discourse analysis led to the construction of three main themes. First, we found that the novelty factor of the simulation game for raising HIV/AIDS awareness was confirmed both during the game itself and after a period of time had elapsed. Second, in light of many education students’ naivety about the intersection of biological, socio-cultural and economic issues at play in the spread of HIV, the game prompted more reflexivity about the disease and helped to broaden the participants’ discussions. Lastly, the data revealed the disjuncture between theory and practice in HIV/AIDS education. We propose that in raising awareness of HIV and AIDS, educators should move towards more engaging and challenging pedagogies that address the learning needs of the ‘new’ generation of university students.

Keywords: game simulation theory, learning psychology, qualitative research, service-learning, South Africa, teacher education, training curricula

African Journal of AIDS Research 2011, 10(1): 73–81
AJOL African Journals Online