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Content-Independent Classroom Gamification

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Computer-Based Games and Animations in Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Chris Cain Washington State University Orcid 16x16

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Chris Cain is a computer science Ph.D student at Washington State University doing research in gamification, specifically how to use supervised and reinforcement learning to select individual externally motivating games played outside the classroom which will maximize a student's motivation to succeed in a classroom setting, without modifying the classroom setting. By tying progress in the classroom to progress in this game, he aims to show an increase in motivation, learning, retention, and grades in as many students as possible without compromising other students' learning experience.

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Matthew E Taylor Washington State University

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Matthew E. Taylor graduated magna cum laude with a double major in computer science and physics from Amherst College in 2001. After working for two years as a software developer, he began his Ph.D. work at the University of Texas at Austin with an MCD fellowship from the College of Natural Sciences. He received his doctorate from the Department of Computer Sciences in the summer of 2008, supervised by Peter Stone. Matt then completed a two year postdoctoral research position at the University of Southern California with Milind Tambe and spent 2.5 years as an assistant professor at Lafayette College in the computer science department. He is currently an assistant professor at Washington State University in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award. Current research interests include intelligent agents, multi-agent systems, reinforcement learning, transfer learning, and robotics.

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Anne Anderson Washington State University

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Anne Anderson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Design + Construction at Washington State University. Her research focuses on improving construction coordination efforts through the use of building information modeling (BIM) and emerging collaboration technologies.

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Work-in-Progress: Content-Independent Classroom Gamification

This work in progress aims to quantify the motivational effects of tying progress in the classroom to progress in a game played outside of class for different player typographies. Gamification, or the use of gaming elements in non-game settings such as the classroom, is becoming a popular method of engaging students in the learning process. Keeping students engaged and focused on class material increases the retention of key concepts, increases student connections, and enhances socioemotional growth, allowing greater mastery of content.

Prior work has shown that individuals with certain Myers-Briggs Type Indicators prefer certain game mechanics and gameplay. A role-playing game was deployed in a course where civil engineering and construction management students learn how to read construction documents, create hand drawings, and develop virtually constructed building models, in order to evaluate correlations between students' Myers-Briggs types, the amount of game interaction, course grades, and level of self-reported course engagement. Key benefits to this approach of gamification include a content-independent game that can be motivating in any classroom, individualized and targeted treatments to boost classroom effort, and potentially data that can be mined to determine when a student is struggling in a class, before it appears in grades.

Content independence is a novel and desirable property because teachers need not adapt the game per course. The game can seamlessly interact with different types of courses and we aim to show it can successfully improve student motivation in multiple settings.

Cain, C., & Taylor, M. E., & Anderson, A. (2016, June), Content-Independent Classroom Gamification Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26582

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