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Tuesday, May 29 • 10:30am - 11:15am
Badge Earned: Lessons from Gamifying First Year Computer Science

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Increased student engagement has been linked to increased self-belief (Zepke and Leach, 2010), improved academic performance as well as improved mental health and psychological adjustment with respect to learning (Wang and Peck, 2013).

Gamification is one method being used to engage students with low intrinsic motivation. Current research in gamification of learning focuses on students at the primary and high school levels, and there remains relatively little discussion in terms of implementing and scaling these techniques at the postsecondary level. In gamification, elements associated with video games are applied in non-game contexts such as education. Simple techniques such as badges or achievements can be effective positive behaviour modifiers, yet their effects are often short-lived due to diminishing novelty (Looyestyn et al., 2017), and their impact on student academic performance appears mixed (Papastergiou 2009; Perry 2015). Despite these potential shortcomings, in the summer of 2016 a custom, open source, web-based badge platform was developed to help address declining student participation and academic performance by engaging them with game-like rewards (Johnson 2016).

This platform and the in-class trials have renewed discussion and interest at Laurentian University (and beyond) in gamification as a tool to help engage postsecondary learners in order to improve academic success at the individual level and student retention at the course and institution levels.

In this presentation I'll: 
  • use the lessons learned over the past two academic years to help frame both the role and student-centric value of simple gamification techniques such as badges, leaderboards and instant feedback. 
  • discuss upcoming extensions to the current badging system, including automated awarding, integrated quizing, and how I hope to improve both the academic and personal experiences for students and simplify management instructors. 
  • address the advantages and disadvantages of our badge system when compared to increasingly popular “open” badging platforms. 
  • finish by making a case for deeper and more complex gamification elements such as quest-based learning (Haskell 2013) and discuss how such elements, which are relatively successful in primary and high schools, might be modified to better suit postsecondary learners.

avatar for Aaron Langille

Aaron Langille

Master Lecturer, Laurentian University
Professor of computer science and video game design. Interested in student engagement, retention and recruitment as well as gamification, open education and more.

Tuesday May 29, 2018 10:30am - 11:15am AKDT
Port of Vancouver