Update: this proposal was not funded through the Digital Media & Learning Competition. We’re still seeking funding. Please visit Rey Junco’s blog for more details.
As my friend/colleague/mentor Rey Junco blogged yesterday, we’ve submitted a research proposal to the Digital Media & Learning Competition. We’re seeking funding for a study that will integrate game dynamics and badges into a large lecture course. Here’s how it would work:
Before the semester begins, university students registered for a large-lecture introductory course will be randomly assigned to either a control section or an experimental section. Both the control and experimental sections will be taught by the same instructor and will follow the same schedule in the presentation of course material. Each section will contain at least 200 students for a total of 400 participants.
Students in the experimental section will use their Android or iOS devices to engage in academic challenges in order to earn badges. Students will check in to the classroom after indicated class sessions. Once they check in, they will be presented with a challenge that involves answering five questions about that day’s lecture, developed in consultation with the course instructor. Students will receive a point for each question they answer correctly. They will also receive points for checking in to the class location, posting pictures of their notes, and posting questions about the day’s lecture. Additionally, students will receive points towards badges by participating in relevant challenges outside of class, including “social check-ins” with a study group, visiting a professor/TA’s office or supplementary instruction session, or checking into the tutoring center.
When a student accumulates a pre-determined amount of points, she or he will receive a badge. Students may earn one badge for each week of the course. At the end of the semester, students will receive course extra credit based on the number of badges they have earned.
Students in the control section will have the opportunity to answer the same questions as the experimental group; however, these questions will be presented as quizzes using TurningTechnologies ResponseWare. ResponseWare allows students to submit answers by using either their mobile phones or their laptop computers. The quizzes will include the same content and be administered at the same time as the experimental group. Control group students will also be able to complete the other challenges, but they will be presented as extra credit opportunities accompanied by manual tracking methods and a traditional scoring rubric equivalent to the badge system.
We will evaluate differences in student engagement, attendance, and academic performance between the experimental group and the control group. We don’t know what the difference will be, but we’re among a team of folks committed to conducting empirical research to see if they much-hyped “gamification of higher education” has any merit.
What Do You Think?
As much as I love comments on my blog (and if you really want to leave one, go ahead), I’d prefer if you would direct your comment directly to our research proposal. Our literature review, as well as additional outcomes information, is included in the proposal. Do you think this is a project worth funding? Would you be interested in the results? Would you have a use for the results in your every-day work?