Last week we here in Learning Design facilitated a workshop on Gamification. Building on that session, I thought I’d share another gamification strategy: the Weekly Challenge. This involves giving your students a weekly challenge that asks them to apply concepts they recently learned in your course to a real-world case scenario within a limited timeframe (eg, 24-48 hours) and then as they accumulate points they can use it towards some type of reward such as opting out of a homework assignment or quiz.
Beyond the appreciation students will have for connecting class concepts and ideas to the outside world, research has also pointed to cognitive benefits of incorporating problem-based challenges from real-world contexts; specifically, because the complex, ill-structured nature of real-world problems encourages students to negotiate among different perspectives and search for information that supports their proposed solutions (Lu et al., 2014). Overall, the combination of tackling a real-world, problem-based challenge within a relatively short timeframe can enhance the level of student engagement.
Decide on the focal point: Connect the challenge by first identifying a concept, idea or thing that your students recently read and/or discussed for class. Hint: try and find something that many students have found difficult.
Convert it into a problem-based challenge: For example, if you teach a Nursing class, you could have the students investigate the pros and cons of a new wearable app or telehealth technology. Similarly, if you teach an English class, you could challenge your students to analyze a plot or character in a streaming show (eg, Netflix). Another example could be if you teach a Statistics class, you could challenge them to compare the performances of a professional sports athlete or the popularity of an idea that is being polled by a political or news organization.
Start the clock! Limit the time they have to complete the challenge, such as 24 or 48 hours.
Award the points: When students successfully complete the challenge, they receive a certain number of points that can be used towards substantive rewards like canceling a low score on a test or opting out of a homework assignment.
Create a Leaderboard: Create a leaderboard using Google Sheets so students can track their progress.
Have you tried some form of gamification in your courses? How did it go? Let us know and we can share it in a future issue of the Storm Report.