> Scottish SPCA and University of Edinburgh develop and evaluate the first ever digital ‘Farm Animal Welfare’ educational game
Scottish SPCA and University of Edinburgh develop and evaluate the first ever digital ‘Farm Animal Welfare’ educational game
The Scottish SPCA and University of Edinburgh have recently published a study which discusses the findings of a ground-breaking, theoretically-driven digital game teaching children about farm animal welfare.
Ourselves, along with experts from the university, recently developed and tested an application-based farming game with the aim of educating children on farm animal welfare issues, promoting beliefs about animal sentience, and reinforcing positive attitudes and compassion.
Our head of education and policy Gilly Mendes Ferreira said, “Many children in Western countries have limited contact with and knowledge of farm animals and food production systems.
“Education can play an important role in children’s understanding of farm animal welfare issues but traditionally animal welfare education has tended to focus on domestic pets. This project has provided an opportunity to utilise children’s interest in technology to help them connect or reconnect with the natural world and teaches them about the fantastic farming industry we have here in Scotland.
“The research into effects of ‘Farm Animal Welfare’ indicates the game had a positive impact on children’s beliefs about animal minds, knowledge of animal welfare needs and knowledge about welfare in different farming systems.”
Professor Jo Williams, from Clinical and Health Psychology, the University of Edinburgh said, “This intervention takes animal welfare education into the digital age.
“Children really enjoyed playing the game and it led to improvements in their understanding that farm animals have thoughts and feelings and welfare needs.
“The game also increased children’s knowledge of the welfare consequences of different farming systems.”
This study presents an evaluation of the first digital animal welfare education intervention for children, demonstrating the benefits of incorporating ‘serious games’ into farm animal welfare education.
The pioneering findings of this research will inform future practice around farm animal welfare education interventions for school aged children.
The research is the most recent collaborative study between the Society and the University of Edinburgh which follows the successful ‘Rabbit Rescuers’ programme which introduced children to mechanical rabbits, resulting in greater learning of rabbit welfare and higher scoring when it came to pet attachment.