Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gamification - Lessons learned

When I decided to gamify some aspects of my classroom, I ran into some problems (Re:  Gamification - don't fake it). The idea still appealed to me and I continued to think about ways to help my students achieve mastery of the content.

The question still remained, "Why do learners play games like Pokémon , even when they are in fact doing the same thing over and over; and how can I harness that in the classroom?" I already learned that just adding badges and giving out points did not work. To stay motivated, students need to have a personal investment in the outcome, the task needs to be meaningful and they need to be persistent in the learning.
I went on to study the gaming framework (Yu-Kai Chou's Gamification Framework), and came up with two new units:


In them I added a need to achieve a specific number of XP in order to access the team projects, and the risk of not having enough would mean students would be working individually. It also meant that teams needed to not only have the team admittance XP, but the rest of the points would be used for buying materials. This made all the difference as I began to field requests for "re-grading" of previously submitted work because "We don't have enough XP to get glue sticks". 

It took at couple of sessions for students to also realize that the improved work needed to be worthy of the re-grade time (i.e. adding one sentence to a random answer would improve their XP minimally or even lower the XP already achieved). Students started not only working harder for themselves, but also monitoring the work done by other members. 
"Wait, let me see what you are submitting to Mrs. Garcia, I don't want to loose points", became a common comment.
With these gamified units I achieved:

  • An increase in motivation
  • An increase in active participation and review of previous work
  • Decrease in incomplete work submissions
  • Increase in learning as demonstrated by end of unit scores

And when I asked my students if I should use these next year, the overwhelming response was "Yes, we enjoyed doing these."

As my students and I continue on this journey, I continue to toy with the idea of gamifing the whole classroom experience, making each unit of study a learning quest. Recently I found 3Dgame lab and plan to devote some time to this option. I'll let you know how it goes.

Further reading:
  • Glover, Ian. "Play as You Learn: Gamification as a Technique for Motivating Learners." - Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. <http://shura.shu.ac.uk/7172/1/Glover_-_Play_As_You_Learn_-_proceeding_112246.pdf>