Gamification in higher ed

PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
Help me brainstorm ideas for gamifying an intro psych class?


Usually, I teach it face-to-face, but it will have to go online now. I want to do everything I can to keep it engaging and not put people to sleep. So... maybe gamification?

I know a bit about it from workshops and readings, but am struggling to come up with specific things to do that would work in this class

I was thinking maybe... designing it so students can level up in core topics? Get achievement badges they can post? Puzzles they need to solve to unlock bonus content...

Was hoping you creative smart people on this forum might have other ideas?

The crazier the better - these are first-year students still a bit intimidated by uni so anything fun that would break the ice with them and get them to start interacting with each other and with the instructors would be a huge help

Thanks in advance! : )

Ringo
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  • BurnageBurnage irregular Registered User regular
    I work in higher education and have given some thought to this. Exactly how feasible it is might depend on the exact virtual learning environment that you're using; some are more or less flexible than others.

    A levelling up system is the easiest method of gamification, I think, and you can tie awarded points to things that you want your students to be doing; watching videos, posting or answering questions on discussion boards, clicking links to read articles, etc. Maybe block off parts of the module until they've reached a certain level to provide a sense of progression.

    You could also set up a leaderboard to provide a sense of competition for your students, although your mileage may vary on how much you want to encourage that.

    Those are the key points I've hit on, at least. It's a tricky line to walk because you don't want the system to be overwhelming (especially when they're already going to be overwhelmed by studying) but you still want it to be engaging.

    PirateQueenRingo
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    TYSM @Burnage !
    That is such a thoughtful and helpful response!

    We're just switching to a new learning environment (Aula) and I'm meeting online with one of their IT support specialists later this week

    They'll help.me set everything up & I'm sure they'll know how to incorporate a levelling up system that looks good isn't too overwhelming....

    About your leaderboard idea:
    Wow! That sounds like something that could really motivate people
    Have you ever done something like this with your students?
    Do you think it would work better with individuals or maybe teams (so they cooperate and don't just compete)?

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Leaderboards can violate FERPA depending on how they are implemented, so be verrry careful.

    MayabirdPirateQueenElvenshae
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Are you making videos or doing your lectures realtime? And if realtime, how early?

    If you're teaching an 8am intro course online and also realtime, my condolences, there's not a ton to can do. At least, if my 8am intro to psych courses was any indication. Then again, I actually had to go.

    Additionally, I have ADHD. I'm someone who basically requires gamification to get through many classes that aren't part of my core program, but that's why I'm a good test-taker. Frequent small quizzes do a lot more toward that than just a midterm and final, and so can little silly things that I can pick up on, since I will be carefully examining your bookshelf or whatever you've got in other parts of the frame anyway. If you don't have anything in other parts of the frame then that will become "things on my desk," and then it's all over. It might be good to do something like "message me with what was in the background when I talked about [X]." Bonus points could count toward their final grade.

    I'm willing to bet this whole situation is hell for people who have trouble paying attention, and of those a percentage may be, like me when I was in college, as yet undiagnosed. I wouldn't have wanted to have to unlock content especially for gen ed, that would have been so hard for me and another roadblock between me and a decent grade that I wouldn't have had to deal with in person. I had such a hard time reading and doing things for classes outside of the classroom, and that's why I relied on tests so much in the first place: they almost always covered things I was physically present for and often explicitly excluded other content. Now everything is other content.

    I don't know if you necessarily feel compelled to tailor all this around a fairly specific situation though, especially for an intro course, and I don't know what your screen or streaming program or whatever will be set up to do. This may all be entirely inappropriate for your "classroom" environment, the above speaks only from my experiences with college gen ed and what works for me watching online content, even for fun, today.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    PirateQueenRingo
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    Thanks so much @ceres for your insightful and helpful response!

    Fortunately, video lectures will be posted online & viewable at any time and only seminars will be at real time (hopefully not 8am : )

    So you preferred having weekly short quizzes where you could immediately do well instead of waiting for a midterm/final?

    Thanks for pointing out unlocking content could be a roadblock - that didn't even occur to me

    If the past two years are a good indicator, there's a fair number of students taking that class that have ADHD so tailoring materials to fit what they might prefer makes perfect sense

    I love your idea for "message me with what was in the background when I talked about [X]" - never done that before and can't wait to try it : )
    If you have any other ideas, please let me know!

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Pirate, a lot of what I do is evaluating the efficacy of college-level program for funding. If you want to hit me up with your battleplan when you get something concrete I can look it over like I would a grant application and give you as best of feedback as I can.

    PirateQueenElvenshaeRingo
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    @Enc
    That would be amazing! TYSM!

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Happy to do it, send me a PM when you have things nailed down.

    PirateQueen
  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    I work in this space, but from the technology side. I can't really talk too much about it, but maybe start looking here:

    https://info.badgr.com/spotlight/badgr-for-canvas.html

    PirateQueenRingo
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    It's not so much that I could immediately do well, I did not necessarily always do well. It's more that it gave me a point of focus. Dopamine, reward centers, all that. Aren't you a psych teacher? :P It kept me engaged, taking better notes, and going over material more often, whereas intro classes that had two tests I might sometimes attend.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    PirateQueen
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    @L Ron Howard
    Thanks for the useful link!
    Never used Badgr before - will have to look into it!

    @ceres
    : D
    Aah now I get it! It's that nice approach motivation

    Though, would love to find a way to make quizzes more game-like (making them motivating and rewarding like video games are instead of stressful/causing avoidance for some people: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272519057_Video_Game_Training_and_the_Reward_System)



  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    i teach high-school but i have some experience with gamification using wordpress (the myCred plugin is excellent, and hooks into some of the best wordpress quiz extensions) and canvas (mastery paths are really good, plus badgr plugins)

    i think for gamification it's really going to depend on your LMS, or what you're able to set up outside those constraints.

    sC4Q4nq.jpg
    PirateQueen
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    Thanks @bsjezz for the helpful feedback!

    What worked best for you in myCred/Canvas?
    What did your students respond to most (if you don't mind disclosing)?

    Luckily, sounds like colleagues from IT will help set everything up in Aula for my class so I'll know what is/isn't possible after talking to them this week.

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    one thing that i was able to do with mycred was enable two separate 'currencies' - one set of points that you used for a leaderboard and 'ranking up', and one set of 'dollars' that you spend on unlockable content (my podcast series was popular!). it's nice to have the two - though both are earned by doing the same stuff - because people want to feel they can 'spend' their earnings without affecting their rank. it did take some setting up though, i made the dollar bonuses slightly randomised to emulate RPG style loot

    another good thing to do is make other students' work purchasable, and have the 'money' go to the person who made the content. so you can do a jigsaw-style activity where everyone researches one topic and creates material using a scaffold, then anyone can buy it to expand their knowledge, with (ideally) the best stuff getting rewarded. again, that's myCred

    sC4Q4nq.jpg
    PirateQueenBurnageRingo
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    @bsjezz

    :0
    You made your own podcast?
    Clearly you're a much cooler teacher than me! :)

    Your two-currency system sounds fantastic
    Mind if I try and copy you?

    I love using the jigsaw classroom - never thought of making students' work purchasable.
    I wonder if it might be possible to flip that so students get points for peer reviewing & helping others...

    Also awesome idea to incorporate RPG elements - will have to try that too

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    yes! please copy!

    p.s. when i say 'podcast', i mostly just sat in the car while my then-one-year-old son slept in the baby seat and recorded a rambling chat about the subject. this was my first year of full-time teaching, i was very ambitious... i did get a few years of value out of it though

    sC4Q4nq.jpg
    PirateQueen
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    Thanks for letting me copy your system : )

    Also, that sounds like an awesome, spontaneous podcast - no wonder it's so popular!

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    bias note: I think gamification is overused

    If you're going to gamify, make sure it's relevant to their grade or otherwise, as "useless internet points" are something many have figured out. Also, embrace the medium of online and do mixed media or other stuff live. Most people want agency, so if possible give them that. I'd start with something like polleverywhere (pollev) for simple decisions on content or experiment examples (think - who thinks this person will act altruistically?) that lets you read the room and engage on topics.

    PirateQueenceresRingo
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    That is such a cool idea @schuss !
    I often do polls like that in class and didn't think of the fact they'd also work online

    Love it when people disagree in their predictions of findings - always gets a good debate started
    Thanks for alerting me to pollev!

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    All good! We use it a lot in corporate training/meeting scenarios, as it lets people dip their toes in engagement-wise without fully committing. It also alleviates stress as people see that there are others that may agree. If you require all to respond in a class (unsure if feasible), it can also drive some insights or thoughts that you can come back to later in a learning unit and show people how their own perceptions have changed. This is likely key to psych intro as so much of human thought/perception gets retconned out as we seek to feel "right".

    PirateQueenRingo
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    That's a really good point!

    We could track poll results over the course of the semester and students can see how much they progressed (preventing retconning and the "knew it all along" effect)

    Thanks again!

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    Yea in my experience my students would bristle at gameification and I agree with schuss, it's over done.

    Polleverywhere might be a nice happy medium but I wasn't able to do what I wanted with it but admittedly, I didn't put all that much effort into it.

    I don't like the idea of leaderboards at least personal ones. Something I played around with in my intro bio course was a house cup. Basically like Harry Potter. In my head it promotes team based peer support and I imagine it would be easier online. If you use zoom you can put them in team based breakout rooms to work on problems etc.

    camo_sig.png
    PirateQueenElvenshaeceres
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    A House Cup like in HP? : 0
    Awesome!

    Did it work out well in your intro bio course?

    Thanks for the idea @mts !

    (Now I really want to make Hogwarts houses but psychology based, e.g. Instead of Slytherin House it can be Skinner house with a pigeon as their house symbol or maybe Zimbardo House)

    Elvenshae
  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    It worked well enough. It was challenging the way our course was set up. Big multi section lecture with labs that were run by GAs. If you had someone into it it worked well.i can send you my write up for it. It would definitely work better for a smaller class size since you can know who was on what team.

    You have to be careful with composition if you are using it for any rewards or it can skew heavily

    camo_sig.png
    PirateQueen
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    That sounds amazing @mts !
    Could I take a sneak peak at your write-up?

    Currently, I'm not sure what our cohort size will be (was around 150 last year but will surely drop)

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Out of curiosity, do you have agency to change your curriculum with your department? A lot of times these sorts of things have to go through a curriculum committee for GEP and program prerequisite courses, which in most Psych departments are about 40% of the curriculum.

    PirateQueen
  • BurnageBurnage irregular Registered User regular
    Enc wrote: »
    Out of curiosity, do you have agency to change your curriculum with your department? A lot of times these sorts of things have to go through a curriculum committee for GEP and program prerequisite courses, which in most Psych departments are about 40% of the curriculum.

    This is a bit different in the UK, I think. Assuming that PirateQueen is teaching on a BPS-accredited course, as long as the content necessary for that accreditation is taught it doesn't necessarily matter in which format it's delivered, and outside of core modules the universities I've been affiliated with haven't cared too much about broad changes to material.

    PirateQueen
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    Thanks for checking @Enc !

    Luckily, just like @Burnage says, it's a BPS-accredited programme so there's a lot of flexibility with the content and delivery style

    So, the advice and ideas you have given me on this thread are extremely helpful and I'll try to implement as many as I can!

    Sadly, I don't have as much agency over changing the assessment (which seems to be much harder compared to when I was teaching in the US).
    If you guys know some techniques to charm external examiners into letting me make tests a bit easier and user-friendly, please tell : )

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    There is only one answer to that: have evidence backed alternatives that show better outcomes in future courses. When you design your new model you should wait to implement it until after you record a term or two of previous methodology data (pre-post surveys, tracked student IDs to see their performance over time in higher level courses, etc.) and then implement your design and see how it compares. If you are successful and have a year or two of data showing that, its usually very easy to get funding to expand your model to do something signifigantly larger. The trick to getting grant funding is being methodical and planning the long game with your curricular changes so that you can demonstrate your successes (and failures, documenting what didn't work and how you changed it is also a major thing that funding offices and admin units look for).

    PirateQueenRingoElvenshae
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    TYSM @Enc - didn't even think of seeking grant funding, but that's an amazing idea!

    My research centre got closed last year so this would be a great way to get some useful data and still publish something despite teaching full time...

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Yeah, if you are going to spend the effort to do this, might as well also set it up to be professional development and something to go in your tenure binder for promotion down the line.

    PirateQueenRingo
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    edited June 23
    Good point!

    A plus of the UK system - I don't have to worry about tenure & got a permanent contract as a lecturer just a year after joining my uni : )

    Though, wouldn't mind getting promoted in future so I'll listen to your advice & document everything carefully (both for my sake & for my students)

    Really appreciate all your help : )

    PirateQueen on
    Ringo
  • RingoRingo HE KEEPS REPEATING THE LINE I'M GONNA CRY BLEASE LET HIM LIVE YOU MADE ME WATCH SO MUCH KISSING IN THIS FILM LET INIGO LIVERegistered User regular
    Just want to throw in my two cents:

    Individual leaderboards would be de-motivating to me. If there are things I am interested in doing then I'll do them. I don't want to be 'guilted' into interacting with your systems, and I usually find competition for the sake of competition to be insulting.

    However an overall class leaderboard where my contributions contribute to everyone's scores sounds positive and rewarding. I really like the idea of students interacting with each other being rewarded, particularly discussion topics and research sharing. Not only is this great for incentivizing students to help and support each other in class but it also works as a great ice breaker for people who might not normally interact and can lead to friendships forming which can be an immensely important support for all students outside of the classroom.

    Like @ceres I was a great test taker. I disliked repetitive homework and generally never took notes as that only seemed to make my internalization of the material harder to achieve. Passing weekky quizzes was both gratifying when I passed them, but also instructional in seeing what material I may have missed or had struggled to understand. Having maybe a standard weekky quiz that allows both you and the classroom an easy metric to see how much people are struggling with a topic is helpful as long as doing poorly is not treated as failure.

    I also like the idea of having optional "go at your own pace" quizzes which can unlock further materials on the subject for a few reasons: 1) having the option to race ahead of the class or really dig deeper into a concept is very rewarding when you are feeling voracious for knowledge. Students who find class too slow get bored and quickly tune out making their ability to contribute meaningfully to the class fade over time.

    2) For someone like me, really getting into the weeds on a topic is beneficial to my learning and committing the knowledge to memory. The more I learn about the concepts the more sticks. And it really helps if I can do that without continuously dragging the teacher aside or derailing the class for my questions. A discussion area for people who have plunged ahead in a topic might be incredibly useful!

    3) The quiz concept is effective gatekeeping. Often I find teachers can be reluctant to encourage further reading before they are certain the student has the base concepts firmly grounded in mind. If you pass the quiz, you can be more readily assured that you are prepared for the next level of complexity and be less likely to confuse yourself. And if you don't pass the quiz it means that you need more work on understanding the material before proceeding.

    4) Possibly passing the optional quizzes could give viewable achievements, with perhaps a subject "mastery" quiz that gives a badge to denote the student as someone who can tutor classmates on that subject. So achievement and badge tracking may effectively function as an individual leaderboard, but the overall message is that this student is qualified to help others rather than just "performing best"

    Sterica wrote: »
    I know my last visit to my grandpa on his deathbed was to find out how the whole Nazi werewolf thing turned out.
    Edcrab's Exigency RPG
    ceresPirateQueen
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah the quizzes are the gamification to me, they let me hyperfocus. Achievements are for spare time. They're gratifying but also kind of stressful to worry about. Leveling up isn't what I think of as an achievement in that sense, killing 10000 council is, or talking to the horse 1000 times. I'm with schuss, honestly. In college... I didn't want all that. I had enough trouble without it. I wouldn't bother with leaderboards or contests, I would assume I couldn't win them and not bother. I would have loved polls though, that's just audience participation.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    RingoPirateQueen
  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited June 23
    one thing i was always very sure to do was make sure any gamified elements were not tied to assessment. some students just never feel the buy-in and they shouldn't have to. i don't think you can feel there's a lack of equity in offering interesting ways of engaging, including rich material, but there is a lack of equity if you punish those who hate such systems, or don't have the time

    bsjezz on
    sC4Q4nq.jpg
    PirateQueenceresBurnageRingo
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    Thanks so much @Ringo for your thoughtful and in-depth response!

    I really like the idea of an overall class board where everyone's scores contribute to success - never seen that done before, but it sounds like a great way to promote collaboration. Maybe there could be some kind of reward for everyone once a milestone is reached?

    It sounds like you're someone high in need for cognition who likes exploring concepts in depth - that is awesome! I had a MSc class last semester with a number of people like that and they improved the whole group's experience (pushing the whole class to think more critically with their questions)

    So, I'll make sure to add bonus materials and discussion boards for all topics at the start of the semester so people who want to work ahead or go into more depth can do that -
    I hope that would give enough stimulation to highly motivated people like you and @ceres?

    Also, thanks so much for the idea of Mastery Badges. Some students pick up some things unbelievably quickly in first year (e.g. all the boring referencing rules) and spontaneously start helping everyone else - I really like the idea of giving formal recognition for that.

    Thanks again!
    If you think of any other ideas, please let me know!

    Also, thanks @bsjezz and @ceres for the caution!

    I don't think my uni would let me link the new gamification elements with assessment anyway. So, it will definitely be optional and people will be able to opt out completely if it doesn't work for them

    Ringo
  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    You just need to make it count for bonus rather than required part of grades

    camo_sig.png
    PirateQueenceresRingo
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    So, I'll make sure to add bonus materials and discussion boards for all topics at the start of the semester so people who want to work ahead or go into more depth can do that -
    I hope that would give enough stimulation to highly motivated people like you and @ceres?

    I can only speak, as someone with some pretty nasty problems focusing attention, to what my intro classes were like, and how I did with gen ed classes I didn't want to take that were not part of my major. It was always pretty hard for me to care too much about that stuff, or basically anything that didn't occur at a lab bench on a microliter scale for which I was all ears. It's probably best not to design your stuff around me personally; my advice is only that, based on my own experiences, some of these extra measures people use to gamify college courses can be helpful to some but act as a roadblock for others, especially those who might need more time to get things done in general. Class participation is good, extra credit might be good, unlocking classwork is not, leaderboards bad.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    PirateQueen
  • PirateQueenPirateQueen Registered User regular
    That is really good to know!

    Seminars on gamification focus on the benefits, but not the drawbacks (at least the ones I've been to). So, it's very helpful to hear which aspects of it not work for you and might be best to avoid

    Fortunately, the cohort in my intro class is just criminology and psychology students. So, as long as there's examples about serial killers, mass market fraud and wrongfully convicted people being freed after getting help from Elizabeth Loftus, they're pretty easy to engage

    (at least they were in person - we'll see how it goes online!)

    Thanks again for all your help!

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Do you have access to clickers or a culture to have your students use clicker apps on their phones?

    PirateQueen
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