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Addressing Teacher Stress Through a Game-Based Trauma-Informed Training for Preschool Teachers


Principal Investigators (PIs) / Project Leads:


Funding Organization:

University of Utah Digital Health Initiative (DHI)


Inspiring Digital Health Innovations Seed Grant Program – Digital Health Initiative (DHI)

Award Number:


Project Period:

5/1/2024 – 4/30/2025

Total Funding:


Project Status:

In progress


Project Description:

We want preschool teachers to be prepared to help kids in their classrooms who have gone through difficult situations, such as violence or abuse. When kids go through difficult and traumatic situations, it can be hard for them to control their emotions or behaviors in class. Managing difficult child behavior can be stressful for preschool teachers. Lowering this stress can make teachers healthier and can even improve their teaching. One way to help teachers is by giving them training in how to understand and deal with kids who have gone through traumatic situations. Many schools are working to help teachers in this way, usually with short in-person trainings. Creating a mobile game that teachers can use on their phone may be an even better way of training teachers. Right now, there aren’t any mobile games or phone apps for teachers on childhood trauma. Our team will develop one to teach preschool teachers about trauma and how to handle it in their classrooms. We will include information that teachers say is valuable to them. We will then test the mobile game with 20 preschool teachers to see how they feel while using it and if it’s easy for them to use.



Childhood trauma (e.g., abuse, violence exposure) has been linked to children’s challenging classroom behavior. Managing children’s extremely challenging classroom behavior contributes to teacher stress which has implications for health and wellness. Resources and trainings that help teachers address child behavior problems and provide socio-emotional learning support can reduce teacher stress. Trauma-informed training is one resource increasingly being disseminated within school settings to boost professional competency and confidence in recognizing and responding to trauma-related student behaviors. Trauma-informed organizational training often relies on traditional learning methods such as in-person or virtual didactic trainings. Although there is growing adoption of game-based learning approaches in education settings, which may be more effective compared to conventional learning methods, they have not yet been applied to trauma-informed training or among preschool teachers. The proposed project will apply gaming techniques to advance health outcomes within a novel population by developing and piloting a trauma-informed training app for preschool teachers. The research team will partner with SD2C to develop an educational mobile game using 360-degree immersive video to deliver trauma-informed training for preschool teachers through scenarios paired with questions. The game will be piloted with 20 preschool teachers. The research team will conduct user research testing on gameplay usability and learnability. The proposed project represents an innovative approach to improving trauma-informed training and stress management within the preschool workforce with potential implications not only for teachers but also for children they serve. This project also supports a new, cross-campus collaborative team representing the College of Social Work (Dr. Loomis), the Division of Games (Dr. Guajardo), and the Department of Pediatrics (Dr. Campbell).

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Last Updated: 4/25/24