Last summer I attended the second annual UMW Game Camp, at which interested faculty were introduced to the variety of ways that gaming culture and practices could be incorporated into one’s teaching. Game Camp was jointly led by Mary Kayler, Director of our Center for Teaching Excellence & Innovation (@saptiva), and Andi Smith, Associate Professor of Historic Preservation (@smithpres). The main takeaway for me was a way of letting students choose between alternative assignments to earn points towards their final grade in my online principles of economics course. This was a positive change in that it allowed students to choose assessments which showcased their particular learning styles. But that’s not what this post is about.
Rather, last fall I tried something else that was inspired by Game Camp. For a number of years, I have urged my introductory students during the first week of class to read the course website/syllabus carefully. Then I have given them a quiz about it on the first Friday. Year in and year out, the vast majority of students failed the one question quiz, even though I tried to make the questions easy for anyone who read carefully.
After game camp, I had a different idea: I replaced the stick with a carrot. Instead of a one question quiz, I created a scavenger hunt with half a dozen questions. The result last semester was near 100% success. The students loved it and seemed to think I was giving them free points. Perhaps more importantly, they learned what was on the syllabus, which after all was the point. Thanks Mary & Andi!
Image courtesy of Abby Chicken via flickr