Take some lessons from the world of gaming, which your students know and love, and use them to
enhance learning assessment and learning, says Andy Stanfield, Melbourne, Florida, an instructor and director of a center for teaching and learning excellence. He spoke at LERN’s annual North American conference on teaching and learning this spring.
Here are the five characteristics of games that can be used in the classroom:
Create different levels of challenge in your coursework, so students have a sense of accomplishment moving to higher or more difficult levels.
In a game, the player has control over her or his choices in the game. In the classroom, give students more choice in how they learn. Allow students some control over assignments. For example, give them five possible assignments and they have to choose three to complete.
Persistence is a key in games and in any area. People need up to ten years to master a subject. Your students are not in your course for ten years, so create practice exercises that can be positive and reinforce their learning, rather than being judged. Think about not grading every aspect of every assignment to allow them to focus on specific errors or learning objectives. Allow your students the ability to practice without worrying about points.
“Not everything has to be fun,” says Stanfield, “but something has to be fun.” Humor is one positive teaching tool. Young people view work very differently than they do fun, so integrating fun with the work changes their perspective and is a motivator, he notes.
In a game, the players often start at zero and moves up, earning points. In the classroom, the benchmark is 100% and in many assignments students move down as points are taken away, not added. There is a big difference between earning points and being judged. Reconstruct your assessment to be more motivational.
By giving small rewards throughout the course, the process of assessment can be turned around from a judgment to rewards, thus generating an encouraging and more motivational environment for learning in the classroom.