13:27 PM

Exploring how gamification can improve skills training among vulnerable populations


A new collaborative research project led by Mohawk College will focus on skills training for vulnerable girls and women. Researchers are exploring if a new way of providing skills training can help increase the well-being of vulnerable girls and women and enhance the efficacy of the roles they play in their families, communities, workplaces and beyond.

Mohawk College received federal support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a research collaboration with the non-profit, Newfoundland-based Rabbittown Community Centre. The funding will be used to explore how gamification can be used to improve skills training among vulnerable populations, specifically to support girls and women who are facing further employment, educational, and housing challenges post-COVID-19.] The research project will be led by Mohawk’s Dr. Christine Boyko-Head, Professor of Communication and Global Studies.

The Rabbittown Community Centre (RTCC) is based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and works with local residents and with public and private organizations to ensure ongoing support and find comprehensive solutions to problems that impact local families and community members. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, RTCC’s employment program was halted for two years.  As part of the research project, Dr. Boyko-Head and Mohawk student researchers, along with researchers from Toronto Metropolitan University, and Memorial University will work with Rabbittown Community Centre to create needs assessments and develop gamified goals and skills development materials, to assist the non-profit with the relaunch of their programming.

“Girls and women are among the most adversely impacted by the pandemic's effects and other social disruptions,” says Lillian Lush, Executive Director, Rabbittown Community Centre. “This partnership with SSHRC, Mohawk College, and the research team will help remove access barriers and create new opportunities for our clients as they increase their awareness and agency of how to create and/or access future opportunities based on their increasing knowledge and skills. We are excited to see the positive impact it will have in our community.”

Dr. Christine Boyko-Head, a faculty member and researcher at Mohawk College, expressed her gratitude for the federal support of the collaborative project with RTCC. “This is a major step in exploring how serious gamification can enhance knowledge development, retention and mobilization.”

“We feel that it is imperative to assist vulnerable girls and women build skills, achieve goals, and engage in whatever futures they want to create, be it employment, family, or community or global activities. We value the Rabbittown Community Centre’s commitment to providing these opportunities. By investigating girls’ and women’s needs for personal and collective success, and the metaphors and myths that resonant with their experiences, we are able to assist RTCC scale their services and equip their clients to succeed in the present and the future."

The project is funded by a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant, which provides up to $25,000 for one year to support partnerships between researchers and stakeholders from different sectors, promoting collaboration and leading to new solutions to the complex challenges faced by Canadian society. Additional support is provided by Mohawk College’s IDEAWORKS Catalyst Fund, through its faculty release fund. For more information on the IDEAKWORKS Catalyst Fund, please email Andrea Johnson at andrea.johnson4@mohawkcollege.ca, and for more information on the project with RTCC, contact Dr. Boyko-Head at Christine.boyko-head@mohawkcollege.ca.