What’s wrong (and right) with having some scholastic fun? What do students gain, both cognitively and affectively, from role-playing simulations? Do games and related activities stimulate student motivation to learn? Those are some the questions a small group of faculty members are thinking about this academic year under the auspices of the CTE Faculty Learning Community. The group, intrepidly led by Alice Kendrick (Advertising-Meadows) includes Ann Batenburg (Teaching & Learning-Simmons), Tony Cuevas (Instructional Design & Learning Technology-Simmons), Andy Greenwood (Music History- Meadows), and me (Psychology-Dedman).
We are learning that there are lots of good reasons to occasionally insert a game or “playful” activity in class. It breaks up the lectures, gets students’ competitive juices flowing, and as Dean Bowen would endorse, it is a great way to actively engage students. We’ve also learned that there is a literature out there about such topics as “gamification” (Kapp, 2012), defined as using game elements or design techniques to make learning more engaging and fun.
Classroom games are already being played on the hilltop. Maria Dixon (Communication Studies) is using the John Madden football game to teach organizational communication skills. Alice Kendrick has students go without wearing denim for several days (“deconsumption deprivation”) to learn how clothing affects social activities and personal choice. Ann Batenburg adapted the speed dating concept to help students prepare for tests. I’ve used a customized Jeopardy game for reviewing course material. One of my colleagues plays a song at the beginning of class. The first student who makes the connection between the song and the topic of the day gets a point of extra credit. These are just a few examples of what is going on in our classrooms.
As is evident, games and related activities can add life and some fun to the classroom experience. You will hear more from our group as we develop more knowledge and expertise in this area. But you can also help us. If you are using a game or game-like activity in your class, please send me an email about it (firstname.lastname@example.org). And don’t forget to have some fun in class!