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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Grade Calculus: Playing Games with Undergraduate Education and Letting Them Take Responsibility for Learning

Brandon Horvath, Associate ProfessorCollege of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources - Department of Plant Sciences

How many times have we heard, “I only need to get a 75 on this exam to get (insert grade desired here)”? I’ve heard it throughout my short career, and a few years ago, I decided to engage in my own version of “grade calculus”. Examining this generation, we know them to be digitally native, and many of them engage in various forms of games. From casual games to serious MMORPG’s, students from this generation are engaged in playing games. After investigating the dynamics that make games work, and drive people to be engaged by them, I decided to employ such dynamics in my classroom. Much of this engagement resides in Kahneman & Tversky’s Prospect Theory which defines how people behave when these is something to gain or lose. By changing the language surrounding typical assessments, and altering the grade scale a bit, students are now in charge of their destiny as they choose what ‘level’ they would like to pursue in my classes. This presentation will show how game dynamics from the same games students play outside class can increase their engagement in class.  

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