It has been two weeks since the implementation of gamification in my Year 10 Science class. Five out of six teams have completed the first two quests and have been awarded the achievement badge of “Cool Scientist” and the password to level up to Quest 3. Engagement and motivation has definitely increased for 99% of the students. I now get nervous when I log onto Edmodo because I know there’ll be heaps of work uploaded by the students with comments such as “please mark asap”. At the end of every lesson, almost every student submits one or two pieces of work on Edmodo for me to mark. I have to be honest – marking their work every night has been hard work. However, because the students are handing in quality work so regularly, I can easily analyse their areas of strengths and areas for improvement.
Before I go into this further I want to emphasise that every teacher, including myself, knows the benefits of formative assessment (For non-education readers formative assessment is about finding out what students can and cannot do regularly in class tasks. Students are given detailed written feedback. In many ways it is more effective than making students sit an end-of-topic exam). However, many teachers know how difficult it is to gather student work regularly for assessment. Many classrooms involve students doing a task and then the teacher going through the answers together with the whole class. Students mark the answers themselves and many students do not know what they need to improve on and more importantly how they can improve.
So back to gamification …. Since the students are so keen to submit their work, I had an opportunity after every lesson to see whether they “get it”. And what I found is that the design of scientific experiments is much harder for this class than I expected. I also found out they cannot construct tables to present data in a way to show trends. While most students understood independent, dependent and controlled variables, a selected number of students still didn’t. From this I was able to provide detailed written feedback via Edmodo for each student after every lesson. I was also able to plan mini-lessons at the start of each lesson to go through the concepts they did need to improve on. This was followed by students working in teams on their quests.
I can see so much potential with using gamification to enhance formative assessment, which branches off into better personalised learning plans. When I implement gamification for the next topic, I want to use it to enhance personalised learning. Here’s my idea – When students complete quests in the game, there are multiple parallel levels (tasks) that I as the teacher can give the students depending on their need. For example, the next topic is chemical reactions. If a student is capable of completing word chemical equations, I can give them the next level of writing chemical equations with chemical symbols as their “level up”. However for a student who needs more time with word equations I will provide them with more levels of practicing chemical equations. Points and leveling up is tailored for each student. I know this is a very ambitious plan and I’m still ironing out some ideas, but I think using gamification to engage and motivate, enhance formative assessment and better inform personalised learning can reap great benefits for our students.