A Journey Through Technology

Week 10:How would you change the rubric for the final project to better reflect what is important in games?

on November 11, 2016

The main focus of this class has been on what gamification is, and how we can utilize it in our classrooms. The final project for this course consists of making a gamification plan for our classrooms, and this week we are looking at the rubric for that project. To help us along our journey, we have been reading Michael Matera’s book, Explore Like a Pirate (2015), in which he talks the reader through the how and why of gamifying the classroom. I think to make sure our rubric reflects what is important in games, we should look at the key points that make gamification effective in the classroom. “Gamification has the power to transform the way we teach and the way we learn.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 229) This quote sends a powerful message about the purpose of gamification. By choosing to gamify our classrooms, we are purposefully transforming the way we are teaching our students, and in turn the way our students are learning.

The first component of our rubric is purpose. “Clear purpose that correlates with multiple learning objectives standards pertaining to coursework”. This is a crucial factor in any classroom, whether it is gamified or not. If students don’t know why they are doing something, they don’t tend to buy in to the activity or assignment. Leila Meyer (2016) wrote an article titled 12 Tips for Gamifying a Course, and the first tip she gives is to have clear goals and objectives. Teachers should know what they want their students to know, before they start teaching it to them. My gamification plan will be centered on the learning objectives for chemistry that I currently use in each of the units I teach. Those objectives will be slightly modified to fit the theme and setting of the gamification, but those, for the most part, are already established. The criteria for each level of this standard are concise and straightforward.

The second part of the rubric is about the story. “The details of your story make a huge difference in your students’ engagement and excitement.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 1064) One of the goals of gamification is to get students more engaged, and even excited about learning. If the story of the gamification isn’t on point, then student buy-in will be hard to come by. My storyline that I have so far deals with the students being part of a team that has left Earth in search of a new home. To reach their new safe haven, they will have to navigate the depths of space, running into different issues along the way. I hope that with some fine-tuning, I can make this story engaging and exciting for most, if not all, of my students so chemistry can become a more exciting class. For this part of the rubric, I think the criteria are well defined and would be demonstrable in the gamification plan.

The third aspect of the rubric “Well-organized, risk oriented problem solving”, is something I don’t feel as confident about. The title of this section makes sense to me, and it is important for the gamification to include problem solving, but I feel like this will be hard to demonstrate at this beginning of planning level, especially the risk-oriented aspect. At this point, I am planning on each unit of my game to revolve around students solving a problem, but I’m not sure I can demonstrate the criterion well at this point. One key to successful gamification is that this should be something that builds from year to year. The second tip that Meyer (2016) shares for gamifying a course is to not build everything at once. I feel like once I actually implement my gamification, I will get a better feel for what will work, what will need to be changed, and also what new things I can add. I know this is something that I will probably always be adjusting, even from one unit to the next. I think the criterion in this section could be reexamined and perhaps re-worded to be of more use for this section.

The fourth part of the rubric focuses on engaging and motivating the students. I really think that by turning chemistry into a mission for human survival, I will be able to engage a large majority, perhaps even all, of my students in class on a more regular basis. I hope to offer a variety of options for students to complete quests, and have enough side quests, badges, and even hidden content (Easter eggs) to keep students playing the game, even outside of the classroom. Choice is going to be a key for keeping all of my students engaged, and that is something that will probably evolve over time. The criterion for this element of the rubric are very straightforward do not need to be changed.

The fifth component of the rubric is about student collaboration. “A healthy gamified classroom must include a variety of elements that build upon one another and create opportunities for effect communication and collaboration among students.” (Matera, 2015, Kindle location 378) In my game, certain quests will require students to work together within the same class (lab experiments or presentations), but based on the readings on gamification, I also want to have opportunities for students to work with those from other class periods. My game design has each class period aboard a different space ship, but their goals are all the same. It is possible students from different ships (classes) could work together to solve a problem (side-quest). These activities would most likely be optional, but would allow students to go beyond the minimum learning objectives. Again, the criterion for this section of the rubric is very succinct and requires no modification.

Component six of the rubric deals with scaffolding and mastery. I believe with my gamification plan, this aspect is straightforward and easily demonstrable. John McCarthy (2016), in his article Gamifying Your Class to Meet the Needs of All Learners talks about the opportunity that gamification provides for differentiation of learning. Students are able to pick the assignments that work best for them, and in doing so become more engaged in learning. In each unit of my game, students will be able to pick and choose the assignments that appeal to them. Students can choose a more challenging assignment if they feel ready, or they will be able to select something with more support if they aren’t quite ready for the hard stuff yet. Most units will build on previous units, but all will rely somewhat on prior knowledge. I feel that the criterion for this section are well written and do not need any changes.

The last two sections of the rubric are Encouragement and Feedback, and Utility. I plan on giving students feedback multiple times per week, and hopefully daily, as they work on and complete their quests. As students complete quests and side-quests, they will earn badges and experience points, which will hopefully encourage, motivate, and engage students. The utility aspect of the rubric is simple for me in terms of ease and understanding, but at this point I don’t know what types of user modification will be possible for students. This is something I will need to consider as I work on finalizing my plan. The criterion for both of these sections of the rubric are straightforward and don’t need any adjustment.

After going through each part of the rubric, I can see that my main focus for this final plan is figuring out more details in the problem-solving area. I know that problem solving needs to be a large part of my gamification plan, but now I need to look at how I can make the problems more risk-oriented and focused on critical thinking skills.

References

Matera, M. (2015). Explore Like a Pirate: Engage, enrich, and elevate your learners with gamification and game-inspired course design [Kindle Edition].

McCarthy, J. (2016, October 20) Gamifying Your Class to Meet the Needs of All Learners. Retrieved November 10, 2016 from https://www.edutopia.org/article/gamifying-your-class-john-mccarthy

Meyer, L. (2016, June 1) 12 Tips for Gamifying a Course. Retrieved November 10, 2016 from https://campustechnology.com/articles/2016/06/01/12-tips-for-gamifying-a-course.aspx

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2 responses to “Week 10:How would you change the rubric for the final project to better reflect what is important in games?

  1. tmerculief says:

    Sarah- That is the very important step what you say here, “Teachers should know what they want their students to know, before they start teaching it to them.” Oh I see I wasn’t see what story line was but reading your point here “My storyline that I have so far deals with the students being part of a team that has left Earth in search of a new home. To reach their new safe haven, they will have to navigate the depths of space, running into different issues along the way.” I think I understand now. I like this point, The second tip that Meyer (2016) shares for gamifying a course is to not build everything at once. I think I would start to feel overwhelmed is I tried to do this. I like the motivation part as well human survival, sounds exciting! That sounds awesome how you are going to let students choose which assignment appeals to them. Sounds like a lot of work to create different assignments. You unit sounds awesome! I am excited to hear how your students respond to it.

    Like

  2. hcorriere says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I like your plan! You make it sound do-able. When I think of a final project I want to have something “final” but it really will be a draft, because we WILL be tweaking as we go along.

    What about calling your Easter Eggs Calcium Carbonate (what eggshells are made up of) Challenges? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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