Let's Play: 'Gamifying' the Introduction to Social Psychology course
AffiliationUniversity of Southern indiana
TitleLet's Play: 'Gamifying' the Introduction to Social Psychology course
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Effective educators use creative approaches to capture attention, promote engagement, and enhance student success. As such, in the Spring of 2017, I ‘gamified’ the Introduction to Social Psychology. Gamification is the application of game elements to non-game settings . Research suggests that adding elements, such as ‘Experience Points’ (XPs), ‘Achievement Points’ (APs), and the ‘Feedom’ to choose the level of expertise (e.g., beginner), leads to greater student engagement, enjoyment, and success [2, 3]. A majority of the 28 students were Psychology majors (50%), with the remainder Undecided or from a myriad of disciplines. My objectives for the students were to 1) apply scientific method(s) in social psychological research, 2) demonstrate knowledge of the major theories and findings, and 3) recognize and appraise how basic theory and experimental results apply to their lives. To meet these objectives, teams of three completed challenges (e.g., quizzes, exams) and quests (e.g., a research journey, ‘show and tell’) to earn XPs. The winning team of ‘social psychologists’ demonstrated their newly acquired mastery on the topics covered during the semester. Students were able to earn APs by completing Optional Assignments (OAs; e.g., summarizing a research article) to ‘unlock the door’ and give them ‘special powers’ (e.g., skip exam questions). The principles of operant conditioning , suggest that behaviors are strengthen when they are reinforced. As such, the motivational mechanisms (i.e., rewards, e.g., ‘special powers’) of gamification increased the students’ interest and engagement that led to improved learning and socialization [5, 6]. Of the nine groups, only one completed the OAs suggesting that most of the students did not think that the ‘reward’ was worth their effort. Students’ feedback was mixed. One of the students “enjoyed the class a lot”, while for another student “[t]he material [was] boring, but she tried to make it interesting.” Based on my observations, most of the students appeared to be engaged throughout the semester and enjoyed the varied game activities (e.g., discussions). Due to the lack of comparison groups and a formal systematic assessment, I am unable to draw definitive/quantitative conclusions of the effect of gamification on students’ engagement and success. Nevertheless, the inclusion of gamification to my class facilitated my understanding of student engagement. In the future, placing a greater emphasis on OAs and APs and incorporating gamification software to build quests, award points, and keep track of progress will facilitate assessment while potentially increasing students’ engagement and success.
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