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Games as model for grading

Grading is an attempt to offer a statement of competence/knowledge about an individual in relation to a particular subject area. Many other statements of competence exist: personal opinion from colleagues, portfolio of work completed, success/impact in a particular field, etc. In games, competence is expressed (represented) by activities completed or levels achieved. So why not use a game model as a replacement for grading?

Last year, Sheldon replaced the traditional grading system in two of his game design classes with a system that is based on experience points (XP), which were typically used to track progress in role-playing games.

Students commenced the program as avatars at level one, which corresponded to zero XP and a grade of ‘F’. They gained XP by completing ‘quests’, ‘fighting monsters’ and ‘crafting’– in other words, giving presentations, sitting quizzes and exams, and handing in projects.

One Comment

  1. I like motivation for the idea, but as long as the experience cap is 100 and students can only level for a single semester before being reset to “level 0″, is there really any difference from starting at 100 points and applying an experience penalty for failing (or only partially completing) “quests”, a la old school EverQuest? (Recall that the serious penalties for failing at difficult challenges in EQ was one of the big reasons that players quickly defected from that game and flocked to WoW, which was much more forgiving of failure, and thus makes players more willing to take risks and explore.)

    I think that a much more interesting model would be to allow students to roam freely in the provided environment, picking up quests and advancing levels at their own pace and as the urge takes them, leveling freely. Such is not likely to occur within the educational systems that we currently have, but maybe when some educational equivalent of WoW appears…

    Friday, March 19, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

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