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A list of scholarly resources for utilizing educational tabletop RPGs

This list contains scholarly resources (journal publications, books, conference proceedings, etc) that discuss using tabletop RPGs for education.

Please use this list for research, classroom proposals, self education, etc, and, if you find it useful or have recommendations for resources to add, let me know in the comments at the bottom of the page or send me a message so I know it has helped. All the resources here are linked to an online resource where you can find them so you don’t need to copy/paste to search for each one.

Also, check out some other resources on the TTRPGkids site that are focused on educational TTRPGs *here*, and, to help support more posts, activities, and events related to tabletop RPGs for kids, I’m raising funds on ko-fi, which you can find *here*.

This list was assembled by Steph who runs the TTRPGkids site and is a engineering professor using RPG elements in their classroom. I hope the list helps, happy gaming, and thank you for using TTRPGs to teach!


A

Abbott, M.S., et al. Table-top role-playing games as a therapeutic intervention with adults to increase social connectedness.  Social Work With Groupls, 45(6): 1-16, June 2021

Alomari, I., Al-Samarraie, H., & Yousef, R. (2019). The Role of Gamification Techniques in Promoting Student Learning: A Review and Synthesis. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 18, 395-417.

An, Y., & Cao, L. The effects of game design experience on teachers’ attitudes and perceptions regarding the use of digital games in the classroom. TechTrends, 61(2),162-170. 2017.

B

Bages, C. et al.  Play to reduce bullying!  Role-playing games are a useful tool for therapists and teachers.  Journal of Research in Childhood Education, vol 35, issue 4, p631-641, 2021

Banfield, J., & Wilkerson, B. (2014). Increasing Student Intrinsic Motivation And Self-Efficacy Through Gamification Pedagogy. Contemporary Issues in Education Research (CIER),7(4), 291-298.

Bawa, A.  The Quest of Motivation: Tabletop Role Playing Games in the Educational Arena.  International Journal of Game-Based Learning, vol 12 (1), 2022.

Bettochi, E. et al. Incorporeal Project: the use of gamebooks and tabletop RPG for educational purposes – 2 Brazilian experiences.  Proceedings of DiGRA 2011 Conference: Think Design Play.

Bowman, S. L.. The functions of role-playing games: how participants create community, solve problems and explore identity. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2010

Bowman, S.L.  Educational live action role-playing games: A secondary literature review Wyrd con companion book 2014, Wyrd Con, Los Angeles, CA (2014), pp. 112-131

Bowman, S. L., & Standiford, A.. Educational Larp in the Middle School Classroom: A mixed method case study. International Journal of Role-playing, 5(1). 2015

Boysen et al.  Playful learning designs in teacher education and early childhood teacher education: A scoping review.  Teaching and Teacher Education, vol 120 (4), Dec 2022, 103884.

Boysen et al..  The Role of expertise in playful learning activities: A design-based self-study within teacher education aimed at the development of tabletop role-playing games.  Teaching and Teacher Education, vol 128, July 2023, 104128.

Buhagiar, T., & Leo, C. (2018). Does gamification improve academic performance?Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 20.

C

Campbell, H., Madsen, A. (2021) Nothing like a good fiasco!  Exploring the potential of tabletop role-playing games (TRPGs) as literacy experiences.  Canadian Journal of New Scholar in Education, vol 12, no 2 (2021)

Chen, C. H., & Hwang, G. J. Effects of the Team Competition-Based Ubiquitous Gaming Approach on Students’ Interactive Patterns, Collective Efficacy and Awareness of Collaboration and Communication. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 20(1), 87. 2017

Chiu, F. Y., & Hsieh, M. L. Role-Playing Game Based Assessment to Fractional Concept in Second Grade Mathematics. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 13(4), 1075-1083. 2017

Connell, M. A, Tabletop Role-Playing Therapy: A Guide for the Clinician Game Master. Norton Professional Books, 2023.

Cook, M., et al. We’re just playing: The influence of a modified tabletop role-playing game on ELA students’ in-class reading.   Journal of simulation and gaming, vol 48, issue 2, Dec 2016.

Cox, J. M.  Role-playing games in arts, research, and education.  International Journal of Education Through Art, vol 10, issue 3, Oct 2014, p 381-395.

Crocco, F. The RPG Classroom: How Role-Playing Games Have Influenced the Gamification of Education. In The Role-Playing Society: Essays on the Cultural Influence of RPGs. McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC., 2016

Crocco, F., Offenholley, K., & Hernandez, C. (2016). A Proof-of-Concept Study of Game-Based Learning in Higher Education. Simulation & Gaming.

Cullinan, M. & Genova, J. (2023). Gaming the systems: A component a framework for the classroom use of RPGs. International Journal of Role-Playing , 13, 7–17.

D

Daniau, S. The transformative potential of role-playing games—: From play skills to human skills. Simulation & Gaming 47, 4 (May, 2016), 423-444. 

Diakolambrianou, Elektra and Bowman, Sarah Lynne (2023) “Dual Consciousness: What Psychology and Counseling Theories Can Teach and Learn Regarding Identity and the Role-Playing Game Experience,” Journal of Roleplaying Studies and STEAM: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 4.

Dichev, C., Dicheva, D. Gamifying education: what is known, what is believed and what remains uncertain: a critical review. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 14, 9 (2017).

Druckman, D., & Ebner, N. (2013). Games, claims, and new frames: Rethinking the use of simulation in negotiation education. Negotiation Journal, 29(1), 61-92.

Dubbels, B.  Chapter Four: Pedagogy & Play: Creating a Playful Curriculum for Academic and Engaged Learning.  In book: Learning, Education, and Games. Vol 2: Curricular Design Considerations, January 2016.

G

Garrett, F. (2018). Engaged pedagogy through role‐play in a Buddhist studies classroom. Teaching Theology & Religion, 21(4), 336-344

Glazer, K. (2015). Imagining a constructionist game-based pedagogical model: Using tabletop role-playing game creation to enhance literature education in high school English classes (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Thesis database. (No. 3731117), 2015.

H

Haarman, S.  Dungeons & Dragons & Dewey: The potential for dramatic rehearsal and civic outcomes in tabletop role-playing games.  Philosophical Studies in Education, v53, p56-70, 2022

Hammer, J., et al. Learning and role-playing games.  In book: Role-Playing Game Studies (pp. 283-299), April 2018

Han, T. Tabletop role-playing games in Singapore case studies for education and empowerment.  Masters Thesis Dept of SE Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, 2011.

Hergenrader, T. Gaming, world building, and narrative: using role-playing games to teach fiction writing. GLS’11 Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Games + Learning + Society Conference, 103-108. 2011

K

Kay, L. W. (1946). Role-playing as a teaching aid Sociometry, 9 (2/3) (1946), p. 263

Kaylor, S. L. B. (2017). Dungeons and Dragons and Literacy: The role tabletop roleplaing games can play in developing teenagers’ literacy skills and reading interests. Uni scholarworks – University of Northern Iowa.

L

Lasley, J. (2022). Role-playing games in leadership learning. New Directions for Student Leadership, 2022(174), 73–87.

Löfström, E. (2016). Role-playing institutional academic integrity policy-making: using researched perspectives to develop pedagogy. International journal for educational integrity, 12(1), 1-14.

M

Mochocki M. Edu-larp as revision of subject-matter knowledge. International Journal of Role-Playing, 4, 55-75. 2013

Moreno-Guerrero, A.J. et al. Educational innovation in higher education: Use of role playing and educational video in future teachers’ training.  Sustainability, 12 (6) (2020)

Morgan, L., Turner, I.  Can Playing Table-top Role-Playing Games Help Children Learn?.  Primary Science, n170, p30-32, Nov 2021

N

Ntokos K. Swords and sorcery: a structural gamification framework for higher education using role-playing game elements. Research in Learning Technology, 27. 2019

P

Petousi, D. et al (2023)  Historical reality vs. anachronistic fantasy: The history educators’ perspective on tabletop RPGs.  Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, Article 62, April 2023.

Phillips B. D. (1995). Methodology for using RPGs in English conversation classes. Games & Education, 2(2), 4.

Prager, H. P. Richard (2019). Exploring The Use of Role-playing Games in Education. The MT Review, Issue 2, 2019.

R

Randi M. A. F., de Carvalho H. F. Learning through role-playing games: An approach for active learning and teaching. Revista Braileira de Educacao Medica, 37(1), 80-88. 2013

Rao, D., Stupans, I. Exploring the potential of role play in higher education: Development of a typology and teacher guidelines Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 49 (4) (2012), pp. 427-436

Rønning, S. B., & Bjørkly, S. (2019). The use of clinical role-play and reflection in learning therapeutic communication skills in mental health education: an integrative review. Advances in medical education and practice, 10, 415

S

Sancho, P., Moreno-Ger, P., Fuentes-Fernández, R., & Fernández-Manjón, B. Adaptive role-playing games: An immersive approach for problem based learning. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 110. 2009

Sailer, M., Hense, J. U., Mayr, S. K., & Mandl, H. (2017). How gamification motivates: An experimental study of the effects of specific game design elements on psychological need satisfaction. Computers in Human Behavior,69, 371-380

Schmit W. L., Martins J. B., Ferreira T. Role-playing games and education in Brazil: How we do it. In Holter M., Fatland E., Tomte E. (Eds.), Larp, the universe and everything (pp. 75-96). Haraldvangen, Norway: Knutepunkt. 2009

Schrier, K. (Ed.), Learning, education and games Volume Two: Bringing games into educational contexts, ETC Press (2016), pp. 87-115

Stevens, R. Role-play and student engagement: Reflections from the classroom.  Teaching in Higher Education, 20 (5) (2015), pp. 481-492

T

Tarng, W., & Tsai, W. The design and analysis of learning effects for a game-based learning system. Engineering and Technology, 61, 336-345. 2010

Thumlert, K. et al.  Learning through game design: A production pedagogy.  In book: Proceedings of the 12th European Conferecne on Game-Based Learning ECGBL, 2018 (pp 704-714).

Topirceanu, A. Gamified Learning: A Role-Playing Approach to Increase Student In-Class Motivation, Elsevier, Marseilles, France. 2017

V

Van Oostveen, J. Tabletop role-playing games and their possible use in education for sustainable development, an exploration of ethical learning and role-play.  Student Essay.  2020

W

Wadsworth, B. J. (2004). Piaget’s theory of cognitive and affective development. (5th ed.). Pearson. Westborg, J. (2023). The educational role-playing game design matrix: Mapping design components onto types of education. International Journal of Role-Playing, 13, 18-30.

Winardy, G. C. B., Septiana, E.  Role, play, and games: comparison between role-playing games and role-playing in education.  Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, vol 8, issue 1, 2023, 100527.

Woods, T.  Anything can be attempted: Tabletop role-playing games as learning and pedagogy.  Dissertations Publishing, 2017.  1072793.

Wright, J. C., et al. Imaginative role-playing as a medium for moral development: Dungeons & Dragons provides moral training.  Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 60 (1) (2020), pp. 1-31

Z

Zagal, J.P.,  Deterding, S. (Eds.), Role-playing game studies: Transmedia foundations, Routledge (2018), pp. 283-299

Zalka C. V. Adventures in the classroom creating role-playing games based on traditional stories for the high school curriculum (Master’s thesis). East Tennessee State University, Johnson City. 2012

Additional articles (requires sign up with service):

Cheat Sheet: What We Can Learn from Edu-Larp and Other (Non-TT) RPGs

GM Screen: The Didactic Potential of RPGs


If this list has helped, and you want to support TTRPGkids in further projects and maintaining the site, please check out my ko-fi here! This covers site fees, travel to conventions, convention booth costs, etc so I can help share more about TTRPGs for kids. Thank you again for using TTRPGs to teach, and I hope the list has been helpful in your endeavors!

2 thoughts on “A list of scholarly resources for utilizing educational tabletop RPGs

  1. I attended your seminar at Origins yesterday and have spent some time looking at this website as we head back home.

    I am also a college professor and my university has an Honors program that allows faculty to teach a 3-credit semester course to Honors students on a subject of interest or hobby. I proposed a course on RPGs to the Honors director and she turns out to be an avid D&D player so she is interested.

    I find this list incredibly helpful as I want to do more with the students than just play games. I plan to look at RPGs comprehensively, using them to understand informal cooperation, fandom, diversity, and more. By chance do you know of any syllabi for similar courses focused on RPGs?

    TIA!

    1. Hello Matthew! Thank you for attending the seminar at Origins! And I’m really glad you found the research list helpful. A really good resource is one that I just read, which is called the Teacher-Gamer Handbook (I reviewed it here). I use TTRPG elements in the engineering class that I teach in tandem to the regular syllabus and would be very happy to chat about my method, and for making a class that’s ABOUT TTRPGs specifically, that handbook I think will be a really good resource too. It has three 10 week lesson plans that you can run in a class where students play a TTRPG with intentional educational elements and highlights the benefits of using TTRPGs as a class (not just as a supplement to the regular material), which I think can be a really good example for what it sounds like you’re doing. I hope that helps, and I’m happy to chat more either here or by email for longer form (hello@TTRPGkids.com) or to help develop that higher ed syllabus template for others as a research project. I’m excited to hear about the class you’re setting up and am very interested in getting more higher-ed TTRPG notice.

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