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"Gamifying" a Library Orientation Tutorial for Improved Motivation and Learning

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Orienting Students for Lifelong Learning Success

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.14.1 - 25.14.19



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Paper Authors


Michelle Spence University of Toronto

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Michelle Spence has held positions in academic and public libraries, as well as a corporate setting. Her education includes a master’s degree in information studies (2007) and an honours bachelor's of science
degree (2004), both from the University of Toronto. She is currently a reference and instruction librarian at the University of Toronto’s Engineering & Computer Science Library.

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Jason A. Foster University of Toronto

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Robert Irish University of Toronto


Patricia Kristine Sheridan University of Toronto

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Patricia Kristine Sheridan is a Ph.D. candidate with the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering at the University of Toronto. She holds a B.A.Sc. and M.A.Sc. in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto. She is a member of the teaching team and a course developer for the Praxis cornerstone design courses.

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Geoffrey Samuel Frost University of Toronto

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Geoffrey Samuel Frost is a graduate student studying biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto. He completed an undergraduate degree in engineering science at the University of Toronto. He has worked as a Teaching Assistant for the Praxis suite of engineering design courses at the University of Toronto for the past three years.

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"Gamifying" a Library Orientation Tutorial for Improved Motivation and LearningThis paper evaluates the process and outcomes of a gamified library orientation tutorial in [Classname], a cornerstone design and communication class in the [program name] at [Institution].The purpose of the tutorial is to help students meet many of the Information Literacy Standardsfor Science and Engineering/Technology, as well as introduce them to important resources intheir field. A hands-on tutorial session aims to to move 300 students (100 per session) from areliance on brute force and shallow approaches towards refining their techniques for informationdiscovery and evaluation -- working smarter not harder.Drawing on -- and testing -- the work of Jane McGonigal, we used gamification as a means tocreate incentives for learning, to allow for self-discovery and self-paced learning, and to movestudents from prior knowledge to the professional body of knowledge they will need asprofessional engineers. Students were challenged to find, evaluate, and contextualize libraryresources that will be of use to them in subsequent assignments. The search activities weredivided into three areas: (a) Reference Designs, (b) Codes and Standards, and (c) DfXs. Eacharea involved three distinct levels of achievement, for a total of nine achievements plus onebonus activity. Students could only unlock new achievement levels by completing tasks in theprevious level. Achievements included activities such as identifying the location, citation and useof a resource, evaluating its credibility, and defining appropriate search terms to locate resources.The idea of gamifying activities for students offers a new approach to teaching that we evaluatein terms of outcomes, and in comparison with the previous pre-game version of the activity. Ourevaluation of the activity considers the design of effective achievement levels and learning areas,logistical concerns of a large numbers of students in a library, and achievement of learningoutcomes. Overall student motivation was greatly increased through the game approach;moreover, we saw some evidence of deep learning (i.e. ability to transfer), and attainment oflibrary search strategies. The activity was evaluated based on the quality of the resources used inthe assignments this activity was designed to support, and through a qualitative survey of thestudents in the class.Gamification offers an emerging approach to motivation in the educational setting that activatesthe competitive nature of engineering students, while enabling faster development of skills thanprior methods.

Spence, M., & Foster, J. A., & Irish, R., & Sheridan, P. K., & Frost, G. S. (2012, June), "Gamifying" a Library Orientation Tutorial for Improved Motivation and Learning Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20770

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