Increasing student engagement using an Amazing Race–style competition




game-based learning, drug information resources, library instruction


Background: Game-based learning is a successful strategy for teaching various concepts to students, from general orientations to more in-depth material. Pharmacy students in a first-year lab course were introduced to library and drug information resources through a lecture-style class in their first week of school, which was ineffective in terms of engagement. To combat this issue, the pharmacy liaison librarian advocated for moving this class session later in the semester and proposed a game-based activity to replace the lecture.

Case Presentation: “The Amazing Race: Drug Information Edition” was inspired by a well-known TV competition that involves completing several stages (called “legs”) of challenges to finish the race. The librarian developed questions designed to make students use various parts of the library website as well as two drug information databases. Students competed in teams, and the first three teams to complete the race were awarded small prizes. The race was first implemented in 2018, and modifications were made to the 2019 iteration based on student feedback.

Conclusions: Despite several challenges, the race was well received by both the students and the course instructors and increased engagement with introductory library and drug information material. The activity has enhanced the librarian’s relationship and collaboration with the course faculty and made a positive impression on the students.



Wise H, Lowe J, Hill A, Barnett L, Barton C. Escape the welcome cliché: designing educational escape rooms to enhance students’ learning experience. J Inf Lit. 2018 Jun;12(1):86–96. DOI:

Giles K. No budget, no experience, no problem: creating a library orientation game for freshman engineering majors. J Acad Librariansh. 2015 Mar;41(2):170–7. DOI:

Young J. Can library research be fun? Using games for information literacy instruction in higher education. Ga Libr Q. 2016;53(3):1–7. Available from: <>.

Tewell E, Angell K. Far from a Trivial Pursuit: assessing the effectiveness of games in information literacy instruction. Evid Based Libr Inf Pract. 2015 Jan;10(1):20–33. DOI:

Markey K, Leeder C, St. Jean B. Students’ behaviour playing an online information literacy game. J Inf Lit. 2011 Dec;5(2):46–65. DOI:

Field-Springer K, Striley KM. Amazing Race: finding and correctly citing credible sources. Commun Teach. 2016 Jan 1;30(1):22–6. DOI:

Blevins AE, Kiscaden E, Bengtson J. Courting apocalypse: creating a zombie-themed evidence-based medicine game. Med Ref Serv Q. 2017 Oct;36(4):313–22. DOI:

Gleason AW. RELM: Developing a serious game to teach evidence-based medicine in an academic health sciences setting. Med Ref Serv Q. 2015 Jan;34(1):17–28. DOI:

Gage M, Peckman GS, Greene MT. Using a “Survivor” style game to guide nursing research into practice. J Hosp Librariansh. 2011 Jan;11(1):94–8. DOI:

Truong VT, Moles RJ, Schneider CR, Stehlik P. Pilot evaluation of an electronic game developed to teach medication history taking to pharmacy students. Pharm Educ. 2019;19(1):126–32. Available from: <>.

Kavanaugh R, George S, Lamberton N, Frenzel JE, Cernusca D, Eukel HN. Transferability of a diabetes escape room into an accelerated pharmacy program. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2020 Jun 1;12(6):709–15. DOI:

Hudson JN, Bristow DR. Formative assessment can be fun as well as educational. Adv Physiol Educ. 2006 Mar;30(1):33–7. DOI:

Giles K, Shuyler K, Evans A, Reed J. Creating a library orientation card game to reach new transfer students. Public Serv Q. 2019 Jan;15(1):1–12. DOI:

Robberts AS, Van Ryneveld L. Work in progress: enabling learning environments for underprepared engineering students: blending game-based and project-oriented methodologies. 2019 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON); 2019 Apr 8–11; Dubai, UAE. p. 722–6. DOI:

Jones EP, Wisniewski JN. Utilization of a librarian in a pharmacy laboratory course. Med Ref Serv Q. 2020 Dec;39(4):334–43. DOI:

Van Munster B, Weinstein E. The Amazing Race. CBS; 2001.






Case Report