Andrew Davies, Adjunct Faculty, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)HIGHER EDUCATION
While engagement has been known to correlate with student success, keeping students hooked through an entire semester can be a daunting task. To help with this issue, teachers in higher education have started incorporating techniques gleaned from video games, known for their ability to sustain players' interest for long stretches of time. One such tactic, side quests, offers students optional challenges and rewards that support in-class activities without disrupting them.
If well-designed, side quests can give students a sense of control over their learning, the chance to practice relevant course-related skills, and the freedom to explore outside of what's covered in class. Paired with a suitable rewards system, these tasks can inject a sustainable level of fun into what would otherwise be dismissed as 'extra work'. Using lessons learned from incorporating side quests in my own classes, participants will learn how best to design and deploy them, along with a reward system that incentivizes participation without veering into controlled motivation. You can only cover so much material in a semester. So any professor struggling to fit more useful content into their curriculum, without overwhelming their students, will find something helpful in these techniques.
Attendees will leave with a criteria list for how to properly incorporate optional assignments into an existing lesson plan in a way that improves student engagement. Additionally, they will see through examples drawn from my own class how these kinds of challenges can get students to explore the subject area on their own, encouraging them to go beyond what's covered in the lesson. Students don't respond well to being forced into participating, so using my own particular point and badge scheme I'll share tips on how teachers can create a reward system that incentivizes student participation without undermining their intrinsic motivation.