postheadericon The game.

The idea of teaching history, actively involving students in a game that fosters interest, excitement, active participation inside and outside the classroom is pretty rad.

I readMark Carnes’ ‘Setting students’ minds on fire’, found here:

Carnes points out the average graduation rate for students that enroll in higher education is just below 50 percent, although he does not disclose where he came up with that particular statistic. He also points out while finance is certainly an issue for potential and enrolled higher education students, the dropout statistics bridge socioeconomic class. He argues low motivation, low interest in the classes being offered, is at the issue’s root.

Inspiration may be able to help, he states, and that inspiration came in the form of a month(s)-long, heavy involvement learning game.

As I started reading it, I was looking for an outline of the game, what was involved, how it was played, who developed the rules, how they were developed, the game’s purpose.

Beyond that, how were the students assessed for the course? Was any level of participation enough to pass the course?

These things aside, I am certainly interested in learning more about this concept.

I can see how playing a game based on historical events/actors can be useful in learning about those historical actors and events. I can also see how active learning challenges of similar nature could help students understand, say, how to construct a stone-covered arch walkway bridge correctly the first time around, engineering. Puzzles and challenges that involve investing time into a concept, into an area of study, into a group of people with whom you are playing, is something I’d be interested in taking part in, learning about through participation, and ultimately, depending on the situation, run such a game.

I have never participated in such a learning environment, and wouldn’t be against the idea. We could develop one for, say, a graduate pedagogy course. Any takers?

Further, James Paul Gee writes about connectionism – human beings as pattern-recognizers. It argues humans don’t work best when reasoning via logic and general abstract experiences, but without the presence of experience. I could agree with that – learning abstract principles without the opportunity for application is much of what our discussions in class end up heading toward (testing aside). Active learning, getting students involved, fostering a stake in their own educations, piquing their interests in a class. Video games, much like the active learning role-playing game described by Carnes, attempt to bridge that gap, giving students, through games (real or virtual), that chance to apply those principles, gain that experience. I’d be interested to check out more research on this concept, perhaps design an experiment around it, measure its results, effects on cognitive development, engagement.


10 Responses to “The game.”

  • Sihui Ma:

    Thank you for bringing up the question that whether some level of participation is enough to pass the course. I was thinking of whether it is appropriate to evaluate the students’ performance partly due to their presence in the classroom. Some professors do that, because they want to encourage the students to interact in the physical classroom, or maybe they want to force their students to show up in their badly-taught class. Personally, I like to go to class, but I sometimes do feel it is a waste of my time to go to a certain class when the teaching is not very customized to me or it is easier to learn by reading or online resources rather than lecturing.

    • qingyun:

      I feel the same that sometimes it is a waste of my time to go to the classroom for the lecture, unless the instructor will have discussion of final exams. With that being said, it’s the interaction that forces me to attend the lecture. What if all the learning materials are designed to incorporate interaction? Otherwise, all the class materials will be posted online, why bother going to class?

  • The few times I’ve been engaged in “active learning” were both surprising but interesting. I remember there being a test question in undergraduate history where I had to write about a hypothetical dinner party with several US presidents in the late 1800’s. Although I’ve never had a fond enthusiasm for learning history, I thought that question was a unique and somehow enjoyable surprise. I think more of these type scenarios may be more engaging in any subject.

  • I completely agree with you. As soon as he started talking about the game I was looking for applications and instructions for implementation because it sounded to be such a novel idea. If you find anything, please pass it along to the class. Sadly, I think we will have to read the rest of the book to find out his immersion game techniques, but it could be a great read!

  • Kristine:

    I agree that turning the classroom into a “game” environment could be useful in developing more effective teaching. However, I am having trouble in coming up with ideas for engineering. Maybe we could incorporate different projects and have small competitions for the “best” project based on class votes or based on performance. I recall creating a catapult in high school physics that was then compared against others in my class, and the distance of propulsion equaled our grade. Could these activities be considered “games” for students in engineering?

  • Krystalyn Morton:

    I think that the use of games in a history based course is definitely a good idea that always seems to work. For one of my undergraduate courses on Shakespeare, I created a jeopardy-style game for my final project and it was an expected big hit among my classmates. But when I think about how I could take the concept of gaming and apply it to another non-history based course, I struggle to figure out how it would work. As you stated, more information regarding how the game worked, what it consisted of, and how students were assessed would have been interesting to read about. I also think about whether students who are not really into gaming, would actually take to and thrive in a course based such as this.

  • KSpooner:

    I remember playing a lot of “games” in elementary school. Teachers loved playing games for reviews. Jeopardy was a really popular one. (It got really annoying after a while.) We used games for everything. We had around the world for math. (It was a game in which we had to answer multiplication problems. Everyone would sit in their desk and one person would stand up. The person standing would stand behind someone at their desk. The teacher would call out a multiplication or division problem and whoever answered it first and correctly would advance to the next person and so on.) However, this work for basic foundation stuff, but could it really work in higher education especially when we are trying to get students to think critically? The idea of trying to figure out a game for my class I’m a GTA for sounds like a nightmare. 519 students all trying to play a game? I don’t know how practical gaming could be in some of these mass classes.

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