Gamification 101[15]: Efficient Marking that Doesn’t Short-Change Your Students

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is Part 15 in my continuing saga of my current iteration of a gamified course.

Given that this design allows for students to submit up to 60 different items for assessment (some of which have multiple parts) as well as allowing for re-submission, AND given the importance of fast turn around in marking, it is crucial that there be an efficient way of marking that still provides students with meaningful feedback.

Let’s look at these things separately. Although they are related, I think it’s important to consider efficiency and the quality of the feedback separately to make sure both are adequately addressed. Although many instructors will claim that they mark everything in detail, most don’t. As we become more experienced, we also become better at scanning through assignments to find the key things we are looking for. It’s those key things that should end up in the assessment guide.

Meaningful feedback:

  1. Most of the standard and mini-quests do not require detailed feedback. Some can be pass-fail. If they are ‘good enough’ then most of the time no comments are required. It’s really only when there is a problem that I need to comment. There’s a space in the quest log for comments. The requirements are laid out carefully in the quest descriptions.
  2. The Achievement Quests are like regular assignments and they are given a more detailed treatment. I’ve seen many assessments that allot 2 marks for this, 4 marks for that, and so on adding up to 100 marks, but this sort of thing doesn’t really help the students. It forces a kind of cookie-cutter solution that does not allow for any kind of creativity. Instead, I use a more general description that highlights the key things I’m looking for. Each is graded on a sliding scale from really good (full points) to missing (0). Again, there’s a space for comments.snap01618
  3. I even have one that is an iterative assignment.snap02071

Efficient marking:

  1. Some items are effectively pass-fail, allowing me to assess them very quickly.
  2. The quizzes are automatically graded, so all I need to do is record the grade in the scorecard.
  3. Achievement and Epic Quests are set up so that each line item is worth either 5 or 10 XP, and these are explained in the scorecard.snap01621
  4. All scoring is done in spreadsheets that have formulas set up to total the scores automatically so that all I have to do is type in the score for the line item and everything else is done – including the front sheet display that shows the current level (colour-coded) and letter grade.example front sheet
  5. No student submits all the things they can submit, so even though there are 60 different items,


Marking still takes several hours per week, but with this set-up, I can spend more of my time actually marking things, and less time clicking buttons and loading pages. Some items only take a few seconds to assess, and a few more seconds to comment on, and because everything is accessible quickly, I can do some marking any time I have 10 or 15 minutes to spare. Rather than having to sit down every week or two and grade a whole bunch of stuff, students are submitting things on an ongoing basis so I have a smallish number of things to mark every few days. Nothing builds up. On average, students submit about 35 items per semester, which means I have about 100 things to mark per week, but, most only take a few seconds.


On the whole students like having more smaller items to submit as opposed to a few larger ones. They get ongoing feedback and can see themselves making steady progress.

gamificationIf you are interested in following my course journal, watch for the “Gamification 101” heading.

Also, for more information on gamification, check out my website here.

Be the first to like.

Leave a Reply