The development and pilot evaluation of a ‘serious game’ to promote positive child-animal interactions

Roxanne D. Hawkins, Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Joanne M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Animal welfare education aims to nurture compassion, respect and kindness to animals but there remains a need for more rigorous evaluations of such programmes to assess the most effective approaches. Incorporating technology into animal welfare education is a relatively novel field. This study examines the process of designing, developing, and evaluating the effectiveness of a new theoretically-driven educational computer game intervention. Pet Welfare was designed for children aged 7-12 years, to promote positive child-animal interactions. A pre-test, post-test, test-control, quasi-experimental design was used using a self-report questionnaire that children completed within class. Participants included 184 primary-school children from schools in Scotland, UK. The results indicated a positive impact on knowledge about animal welfare needs, knowledge about appropriate and safe behaviour towards pets and beliefs about pet minds. Children were also less accepting of cruelty to pets. There was no impact on self-reported compassion. This study presents the first evaluation of a digital animal welfare ‘serious game’ for children, demonstrating the benefits of incorporating technology and game-based learning into animal cruelty prevention. The results of this study will inform future education directions for those wishing to promote positive and safe relationships between children and animals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman-Animal Interaction Bulletin
Issue number2
Early online date20 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Aug 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • animal cruelty
  • animal welfare
  • children
  • education
  • technology
  • serious games


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