There’s More to Assessment Than Grades?

So, you know the course is working if students are playing the games, right?

Well, that’s a good start, but there is such a large opportunity to learn more about what students are receiving from this course! The students playing the game shows us that they might be doing their homework of preparing for day-to-day classes, but are they understanding the underlying message of the game? Are they able to reconstruct the game to teach a different message? Are they able to teach the game in their own words with game-specific lingo?

All great questions that can be found through different forms of assessment!

Our first (and final!) form of assessment will be a pre and post test to the students in the course. This test is not actually a test, but moreso a form that students will populate with their current understanding of gaming and leadership knowledge. It includes likert scale questions that are answered on a 1 (very little) to 5 (very much) scale. It also has open-ended questions where students can choose to answer as lengthy as they would prefer, such as describing their approach to leadership. Comparing the pre-test that is given at the beginning of the semester to the post-test at the end, we are able to see any increases in comfortability with gaming and ¬†leadership concepts, as well as personal growth in formulating their philosophies in these areas. Witnessing a student’s leadership definition go from 3 words to a paragraph long with examples supporting it makes my heart flutter!

Another form of assessment for the course is collected¬†through in-class discussions. There is allotted times during each class session where students have the opportunity to participate in these conversations, sharing their thought processes and quandaries about the topic. We have also made available online discussion forums if students feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts digitally rather than in class. These discussions help us to see where students’ understandings are in regards to depth and clarity of the topics each week. These discussions are not necessarily for a grade, but rather to help us, as instructors, to guide the conversations and provide extra support to the students that might need it.

Speaking of grades, we will be using assignments as an addition form of assessment. This is where it starts to get somewhat tricky… Because the assignments have been completely gamified into experience points (XP) and students choose what level they want their characters to end on, we expect some students will not be as driven to reach an A+ level. Some students may be okay with earning a C in the class and only turn in that many assignments. (Thus, we have other forms of assessment to ensure learning is still happening!) The 80+ different types of assignments will help us to see where the students seem to direct their energy in completing “the missions” (assignments). Perhaps Student A submits many assignments in the current events category, so we may try to provide additional current event information that we come across for the student to delve deeper if they so choose during their own time. Maybe Student B submits multiple game designs for different assignments, showing interest in game design for a career, giving us the head’s up that we could introduce them to someone we know in the field- helping to make those crucial connections for internships, experiences, and perhaps even jobs!

In addition to these more immediate types of assessment, JS and I will also be completing an overarching data comparison with all of the data collected in this course with a previous, similar course that had been offered in the past in a different department. What this comparison will look like is still up in the air, but we thought this comparison would be important to see what differences we made in the course made a positive or negative impact on the students and their learning.

So, what’s next? Just collect the data and move on to the next class? Absolutely not! After visiting the data, JS and I hope to not only revamp the class accordingly (to better support our students and their learning), but hopefully continue to build off of this class in other areas of our professional lives. Yay for data making a difference!