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Learning Enhancement and Development

Session 2D - Paper 2

Enhancing teaching through gamification: Testing a new-and-improved system for in-lecture weekly quizzes with mobile-phone based responding

Dr Stian Reimers – City, University of London, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

The approach I present gives a lecturer-friendly, low-effort, scientifically grounded way of improving students’ learning. Feedback from students suggests it is seen as a very positive teaching tool that enhances the learning experience. I want to share my experiences with people from other schools.

I will introduce the latest version of a text-message based gamified quiz system used for in-lecture revision, currently run across four module in the BSc Psychology programme, presenting a brief conceptual and technical overview, an example of the system in action, and substantial feedback from students. Overall I will argue that the system offers a very simple, lecturer-friendly way of enhancing teaching excellence.

I presented a primitive version of the system at the Learning at City conference in 2014. The current system represents a step change in design, functionality and reliability. It runs completely online, via a simple interface, and provides immediate feedback on the number of students choosing each option for a question, allowing lecturers to focus on concepts that students struggled with. It has now been used with over 250 students, and regularly features positively in SSLC feedback and in module evaluations. I will give an overview of the latest developments, and their impact.

I will discuss the practical constraints in enhancing teaching excellence in research-focused institutions. From my academic perspective, I can give an overview of the pressures faced by academics juggling multiple roles, where teaching excellence is not the highest priority.

I will discuss the use of gamification in higher education, and its potential and pitfalls in terms of enhancing the student experience.

Finally, I hope to give a hands-on demonstration of a new version of the quiz system to give an example of a technology that, in my opinion, addresses these issues effectively.

  • Academics and learning technologists will see a home-grown, innovative new way of enhancing students’ experience of large-class lectures, with minimal disruption to current lecture practices.
  • People engaged in learning support and learning technology should gain a sense of the barriers that may be faced in persuading research-focussed academic staff to spend time enhancing their teaching, and the situations in which academics could be more amenable to change.
  • All attendees will get an overview of the use of gamification in higher education, with its pros and cons, an area that is changing rapidly.

Short bibliography

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14, 4-58

Glover, I. (2013). Play as you learn: gamification as a technique for motivating learners. In: Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013. AACE , Chesapeake, VA.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium

King, A. (1993). From sage on the stage to guide on the side. College Teaching, 41, 30-35

Selwyn, N. (2013). Distrusting Educational Technology: Critical Questions for Changing Times. London: Routledge.