Escape rooms and diabetes education - NDSU Pharmacy innovative teaching methods receive national attention

Teaching students the skills needed for professional success is the focus of NDSU’s School of Pharmacy and faculty develop innovative methods to reach students.

Pharmacy faculty members Heidi Eukel and Jeanne Frenzel, associate professors of pharmacy practice, created an education escape room which is making its mark in higher education.

With colleagues from Washington State University, Eukel and Frenzel published their innovation, including all materials for others to replicate it across the nation. The approach can be used for diabetes management education and adapted for other topics.

Faculty from many other institutions in pharmacy and nursing education are already using the educational escape room format that Eukel and Frenzel developed.

Published in SAGE Journals Simulation and Gaming, the article titled “Unlocking Student Engagement: Creation, Adaptation, and Application of an Educational Escape Room Across Three Pharmacy Campuses,” shows how escape rooms can increase knowledge and help students actively apply teamwork and team-based communication. 

For the escape rooms, puzzles are created around specific educational objectives.  Puzzles include ciphers, jumbles, coded messages, combination locks, rebuses, and data hunts. Students work in teams to solve content-specific puzzles to escape a room.
When teams solve all of the puzzles in an allotted time, they are considered to successfully escape the room. Gameplay can range from 60 to 75 minutes. Faculty-led debriefing is an important part of the educational innovation.   “Such methods engage students in ways that maintain their focus and think critically in a time-compressed setting, skills which are needed in their pharmacy careers,” said Heidi Eukel, associate professor of pharmacy practice and lead author of the published article. “In addition to diabetes management education, these teaching tools are adaptable to a wide variety of topics.”   Jeanne Frenzel, co-author of the study, noted that fostering collaboration and communication skills are also integral to students’ future success in their profession. “Helping students develop these skills is extremely useful to foster teamwork and team communication methods to use in their profession,” said Frenzel, associate professor of pharmacy practice at NDSU.

For more information about the innovative teaching method developed at NDSU School of Pharmacy, visit


Top of page