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Gamifying Formative Assessments for Student Engagement: The First Real How-To

Rivera, Errol; Garden, Claire


Errol Rivera


Over the past three years, Edinburgh Napier University has invested significant resources
in supporting a programme-focused approach to learning. Vital to this is the effectiveness
of highquality formative assessments in its modules. However, formative assessments in
their truest form risk a lack of student engagement due to the very qualities which make
them effective learning tools such as being voluntary, non-credit bearing, or focusing on
feedback over marks (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). Due to the widespread success of
gamification as a tool for engagement in other sectors, Edinburgh Napier University
initiated a study to assess the impact of gamification on student engagement with
formative assessment.
To accomplish this task, we sought to develop a theoretical basis for gamified learning in
higher education through a rigorous consolidation of the more robust and parsimonious
theoretical frameworks for student engagement (Kahu, 2013), gamified learning, and
assessment (Landers, 2014). The resulting Gamification for Engagement Framework
(GEF) serves two purposes: it provides a means for observing gamification’s impact on
student engagement while minimising subjectivity; and serves as the foundation for a
unique step-by-step process that enables lecturers to gamify formative assessments
according the targeted student behaviour/attitudes they believe will support their desired
learning outcomes.
Having now moved past the theoretical phase, we have now entered the implementation
and evaluation phase of the study. To date, 5 lecturers have undergone training in the
implementation of appropriate gamification, with 2 new volunteers for the upcoming
trimester. 7 modules have participated in the study, with further data currently being
collected. Qualitative and quantitative data has been collected from 130 students, with
more to come and analysis is currently underway, the initial results demonstrate positive
changes in student preparation, effort, and usage of feedback in formative assessments.
The lecturers who have undertaken the gamification training offered by the study
unanimously consider the experience to be valuable, and we now wish to make this
available to a wider pool of participants.

Presentation Conference Type Other
Conference Name SEDA Autumn Conference 2019
Start Date Nov 14, 2019
End Date Nov 15, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 29, 2021
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