Incorporate the gaming concept of failure into your course or unit. How can your students learn from their mistakes in your course or unit? How can you make failure a learning experience that stimulates their desire to try again or attack the problem using a different strategy? Speculate on ways that your students can make mistakes and still win the game.
10 Bonus Points: Read another player’s post and reply.
Haha! When I came to this page I read “Game Over” and I thought at first I had missed the challenge… and then I thought it was a trick involving “failure”. Good job, guys!
In any event, I have not truly incorporated “gaming” into any of my courses (yet) – the idea of keeping track of scoring and such escapes me at the moment – but I do heavily emphasis the concept of “try again” which allows them to make mistakes and still “win the game” (i.e. pass the course with flying colors).
Specifically, I require the practical application of course concepts and when they miss the mark on their papers, I will advise them of the gaps and request that they resubmit until they can properly display evidence of mastering the learning outcomes. For example, in my Change Management course, I have them take a change project that they have been part (or are taking part in currently) or can envision for the future and then they walk through each step of our change model and use tools and tactics addressed in class to build a comprehensive change proposal for an executive audience. I give them feedback based on what the gaps are and what could be improved. I don’t always tell them upfront that they may have another chance and oftentimes I will limit the additional points they can regain (i.e. one letter grade) but if they don’t do it well, then it benefits no one and I truly want them to learn.
I think this is also present in our weekly online discussions as I will advise students privately if/when they need to step up their game and become more engaged. I think this allows them to adjust their course of action so that success can be achieved.
Hi Charla, I submitted an example similar to yours in my posting about allowing students opportunities to re-submit revised assignments. I also have not been informing them that they will have this chance prior to offering it. I have been surprised by complaints from other students who are doing well and getting top scores that they don’t think it is fair for me to allow other students to have another attempt. I was wondering if you had experienced any reactions like that, and if so, how did you respond to their complaint?
I have not had anyone complain yet but that is what inspired the “one letter grade” cap in my mind because, without them being informed up front, I also don’t think that it would be fair to then put those making revisions on the same level with those that excelled on the first try. Having said that, at my last university, we fully employed a project-based approach that was built upon this scale: Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations, and Does Not Meet Expectations. Students could not move on until they at least reached the Meets Expectations level. The top achievement was equivalent to an A and many students would not stop making revisions until they achieved the highest possible evaluation. In that situation, it was different because everyone understood that revisions were not just allowed but required. It was less frequent for them to be successful given the complexity and scope of the projects. What I have also found is that (surprisingly) so few actually take me up on the offer to revise their work and then they have no leverage at the end of the semester when they are 1 point from the next letter grade for their overall score. Have you tried using a cap on the number of additional points they can earn, Margie?
Hi Charla, Yes – I have had a cap on the amount of points that could be earned through revisions but I still got the complaints. I have done it for 3 semesters so far and got complaints for those with high scores each time. They wanted me to give them ‘bonus’ points for getting it right the first time. Big Sigh…..
Thanks for adding the “NOT” clarification! 🙂
I do weekly discussion questions as well but am wondering if there is a good way to respond to each one or if I should even try. It takes a lot of time to respond but I feel like if I am more engaged, then they will be. Is there any gaming strategies for discussions?
Oh, I would love the answer to this question! The weekly discussions are my nemesis. I love them/hate them. I am trying something out new this semester – my students are getting either a complete or an incomplete each week for submitting the discussion (versus a point-value grade although that is happening behind the scenes). Following that, I plan to incorporate peer feedback plus my spot checks and deeper student progress analysis following project submissions to finalize their participation grade for the course. If their written projects are weak, it usually points to poor performance on the weekly submissions. Also, Bb displays the “Complete” check plus a badge if they reply which indicates something else needs to be graded. I leave the badges so I can easily glance across the grading center and see their level of participation. This is in a glass with almost 50 students so I am just trying something new given the size of the class and the distance element.
I’ll have to look into that; the complete check plus badge. Do you have to turn that feature on or is it the default?
If students don’t make mistakes while learning, they may very well not be learning. In fact, learning from failure is a powerful way to learn. Persistence means trying again and improving (hopefully). Developing the resilience to try again is an important life skill to be encouraged our classes.
I remember reading that it’s better to tell a student that he/she is a hard worker rather than he/she is smart. If a student believes that he/she is smart and then fails, this can be emotionally challenging. If the student has a disposition to be a hard worker and to try again, this can lead to learning and to a greater sense of self-efficacy.
I just taught a course in Understanding by Design. The students refined their unit plans over several weeks. I would not call their first efforts failures, and as we worked together, their units improved as did their understandings of the process.
I like your point of telling them that they are hard workers. I always try to find ways to encourage my students without necessarily complimenting them. I frequently say individually that “I know you can do it” and “hang in there!” I also often tell them that my intention is to see them be successful in the course. Then my motives cannot be questioned.
I agree that there is a lot to be learned by failure. I think those are the lessons we sometimes remember the longest.
I incorporate a similar process as you have describe for UbD. I have students develop a set of drawings each week as they develop a design for a house. The other students do the critiquing before I make any comments.
When another student points out a flaw in the design it seems to be taken in a very positive spirit. Because I have so many more years of experience I think my critiques are less valued in a way than the other students.
I just thought of a way to make this a game challenge. Perhaps the students can receive points for their critiques based on a set criteria. I am wondering if this wouldn’t also encourage the less involved students to be more involved.
Once thing I do toward the end of the semester is to offer students a chance for a ‘do-over’ which are opportunities to re-take quizzes they did not get a great score on or re-submit an assignment that they found challenging. They are very thrilled to have a chance to improve their scores and I am happy to entice them to review material that was a struggle for them. This has a double benefit in that it helps them prepare for a comprehensive standardized exam that they are required to take at the end of the course.
I love this idea Margie the student must love that opportunity to do-over that is just great.
I like the “do-over” concept. What classes do you teach?
The class I use this for is Pharmacology.
I imagine those classes are really hard so do-overs would be much appreciated.
I too allow students a “do-over” as well. But I have found that if I do it as an option that it becomes an expectation. And trying to extend deadlines in my homework software becomes a nightmare when trying to do it for 60 some students for 30 some assignments.
I have extended due dates and provided opportunities for a re-do – but I have found that it only works if you have very strict sounding rules in the syllabus that encourage students to stay on schedule and then require a “good excuse” for an extension or re-do. I have found that they then tend to use these opportunities respectfully and think of them as more of a “reprieve” than an expectation.
I have settled on offering everyone a 24-hour grace period without penalty for almost all assignments deadline (but usually not the final). So, in Bb it shows the actual due date but it automatically allows submissions for an additional day. This keeps me from having to get in the middle of individual requests (unexpected Bb issues, bandwidth issues, health issues, work issues, etc) and it gives everyone the same chance so it feels more fair. Then if I get extension requests, I just refer to the 24-hour grade period policy.
I also have not been using games in my courses, which is why I wanted to do this challenge. The only thing I do that is even close is to allow practice exams for the students in some courses. I have a ginormous test bank from the publisher for one of my courses, I create a practice test for each chapter that randomly pulls 15 questions. The students can take it as many times as they want and some love it – some never touch it. How can I make it fun – maybe offer extra credit.
You could have them create a test question for extra credit or, like this exercise, get a reward for being the first one to complete the quiz. Just brainstorming…
I used to give extra credit questions on my exams all the time. Then the School of Nursing decided that we had to have a ‘test policy’ and everyone had to do their exams the same way and I was over-ruled on the option of giving extra credit questions.
Boo. Is there a rule against an extra credit project/task that could be given outside of the test environment?
I used to use software for homework when I taught calculus and finite math that allowed students to ask for explanations on how to solve a problem. The software would then detailed explanations for the students. It also allow the student to request explanations from the instructor – via “ask the instructor” button. A link would be provided that allowed me to see how far in the problem they were able to get before they were “stumped”. I could then write up a detailed explanation of how to move forward in the problem.
Now the students could not get credit for this problem that I solved for them – or that the system showed them how to solve. Instead, the software would allow them to try again with their new understanding of how to approach the problem. The students would then receive credit for the new problem that they had solved on their own.
I guess you could call this a game… from one perspective. But, it is really teaching techniques through trial and error.
I’m a day late, and have no idea how to add a game into my course yet. But I am stimulated by the discussion so far and will probably come up with an idea soon.
I do practical assignments which students post to their portfolio. I am able to comment on their post and allow them (encourage) to re-post revisions. I do not deduct points for re-submitting work.
I feel this has really been beneficial to the learning outcomes as well as being very true to the spirit of the work place. I have always been able to provide my clients with a preliminary sketch of their plans and expect to have to make changes until we come to a final design.
This sounds reasonable and fair. What classes do you teach? I think you’re here in Juneau with engineering-related courses… right?
I have quizzes on my site for each chapter and I put 2 versions up so that the students can keep their high score and try to get an even better score. The question pool is about 60 questions and are randomized so they never get the same set twice. They get exposed to more questions this way. Most will take the quizzes several times until they get a good score but you would be surprised at how many will settle for a 70. I am always surprised. I think Maureen was the one that clued me in to this technique and I think it works well. Students can fail miserably but keep trying until they pass.
Oh and these quizzes count for 10% of their grade so it can mean the difference of a whole grade if they don’t get a good score. It’s not really a game and I have been exploring some games to incorporate. One I like so far has to do with the elements. It gives the name or symbol for the element and you have to scroll through to the correct one. Speed counts. I had fun playing it so might use it to get them more familiar with the elements.
Speed and competition! So, I read once what the elements are that make something a “game” and I am going to look and see if I can find it. Maybe it was from iTeach2?
In my course, students submit a draft of important projects, which gets graded and which other students assess constructively (with a rubric) as well. Then, they revise and submit their final. This does several things: those who do the best job initially get high grades on both assignments; those who don’t really “get it” can learn from their mistakes (which is fundamental to learning); and they all feed off of each others’ creativity and different perspectives.