Gamification 101[19]: Mid-Term Reality Check

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is Part 19 in my continuing saga of my current iteration of a gamified course.

We have just passed the midway point in the course and things are mostly going well.

We’re in week 7 out of 13.


The good:

Attendance remains quite strong – I have somewhat fewer in the last 2 weeks, but I suspect some of this is due to midterms in other classes. Up until then I was getting about 75% attendance, which is pretty good for this kind of course. There are a few students who rarely come to class but are still scoring well above average, which tells me they don’t really need me or the class, and that’s fine. If my assessment really is based on competence, then it shouldn’t really matter if they come to class, or for that matter when they did the work (more on that in a subsequent post).

The bad:

Some of the students who aren’t showing up regularly really should. It is clear from their marks that they are either having difficulty or just not trying. That’s part of the negative side of giving your students a great deal of choice – sometimes they choose badly. I can’t force them to come and I can’t force them to do the work, but I CAN reach out to them, which I will do. This week I will send out personal emails to all my students, telling them how they are doing and what they need to do to pass this course. I’ll let you know how it goes.


The Good:

My students have a wide variety of ways to participate, and I am getting valuable feedback through their ‘critical incident questionnaires’. The online discussion forum is also quite active and I am seeing good discussion, as well as students who are bringing parts of the discussion into class.

The Bad:

I’d love to be able to spend all of our time on these discussions because many of them are important, but I don’t have time. Plus, with the amount of time I am spending marking (see Administration), I don’t really have a lot of left-over energy to engage out of class.


The Good:

One of my students already has enough points to earn an ‘A’. That means that if this student were to walk away right now, they’d get an ‘A’ in the course. I think that’s fantastic! Clearly this person doesn’t really need me for anything in this class. That’s OK – the student will still learn something even if it isn’t core course material.

The class average is about 325 XP. Relatively speaking, that’s about a ‘B’.

The Bad:

About a third of the class have submitted fewer than 10 items for grading. Their scores are very closely tied to the work that they do and if they don’t actually do the work, there is little I can do. See also, Attendance: The Bad, above.


The Good:

Most students have gotten the hang of submitting and logging their submissions. It is very easy for me to see who has submitted what. Most of my students are helping me out by highlighting the new submissions as their scrorecards are starting to fill up.

The Bad:

The last round of marking took me 4 1/2 hours. Granted, it had been about 5 days since I marked last, but I am still finding that a significant portion of my time is spent clicking things and opening pages.

Having 47 students in the class means that the administrative overhead for allowing this much choice is significant.

I’m going to have to create a wish-list for things that would make the admin part of this course less onerous. If that were true, then I think more people could be convinced to give this approach a try.


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.

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Gamification 101[19]: Mid-Term Reality Check — 2 Comments

  1. If I’m reading your post correctly, you’re spending about 8 minutes/student/week on grading, and most of that is the administrative part (clicking things and opening pages).

    In most of my courses I spend 15–30 minutes a week/student on reading their work and giving substantive feedback, plus another 2 minutes/student on recording a selection of the comments. I am *not* looking forward to the grading load in the spring, when I expect a 44-student course that will have 15.5 contact hours a week (not counting office hours and lab setup/cleanup). I’m not scheduled to have a TA for the course, though I’m hoping to have a couple undergrads to help out in the lab.

    • It ends up being somewhat more than that, but since I have no set deadlines I don’t get submissions from all students every week.
      Also, since I have given them so many options for things to submit, some of them are effectively marked pass/fail.
      I created some that can be marked “on sight” – some are visual, and some are just very short. The get lots of brief feedback, and then more detailed feedback on a few of the bigger things.

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