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Assessing students’ learning with games

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Generalising the study of Pellis, and al. on laboratory rats which showed a correlation between social play and cognitive improvement (cited in Sharpe, 2019), social play may finds a natural place in a social learning environment such as a classroom, because of its ability to enhance cognitive skills. In my classes, I teach Managerial Accounting and Entrepreneurship, modules which are designed to give students the keys to become managers in the Hospitality industry, developing skills such as communication, collaboration critical thinking.

Since its description by Clark Abt (1987), the process of integrating games to maximise students experience and learning has been called “serious games” (Ritterfeld and Al., 2009). The “nominal gap” originally defined by Walt Disney (1954) between entertainment and education is now acknowledged and studied by numerous scholars (Gee, 2005; Hromek, 2009; Hobson, 2012; Cruz, 2014; Chuy, 2015; Schell, 2015, Ritterfeld and al., 2016; Nemec and Trna, 2017). Having always been driven by this will of entertaining students’ learning, I have designed in 2019 several learning activities combining elements of game design, which are studied in this poster. Keith Burgun’s work (2012) brings a precise descriptive model of types of games which is developed in this poster as it defines three activities I have created for my classes towards their interactivity, measurement and evaluation of learning : Puzzles, Contests, or Games.

The puzzle matches with the activity from the entrepreneurship module as a formative measurement to evaluate student’s ability to apply their knowledge concerning personality assessments and several famous entrepreneurs. The Contest matches with the activity from the managerial accounting module as a diagnostic ice breaker to check students’ knowledge concerning the main keywords of Accounting. The strategic board game has just been created based on the entrepreneurship module and not been used in class yet —it is still a prototype— but aims to combine the knowledge of the entrepreneurship module with talent management in a synoptic gamification of situated learning.

Now we have defined 3 types of games, let's look into how they could be used in order to assess learning, focusing on how their validity and reliability.

The ability of enhancing students motivation through games has been thoroughly demonstrated in the latest years ( Gee, 2005; Hromek, 2009; Hobson, 2012; Vlachopoulos and Makri, 2017). The three interactive activities addressed in this poster have revealed themselves to measure and evaluate students’ learning in a diverse but complementary manner. However, as demonstrated in this poster, because of the predictive validity of a diagnosis assessment such as a matching contest activity, the latter should be done at the earliest in a learning module. Then, the hermeneutic validity of a formative puzzle would logically positions such an heuristic activity in the middle of a learning module. Eventually, a synoptic strategic board game with its construct validity as demonstrated above would naturally finds its place at the end of a learning curriculum, guiding students in the development of the required academic skills which would be beneficial to their future employability. Therefore, this chronologic classification shows a conflict with Keith Burgun’s ordering by level of interactivity, shows in the model developed above.

However, several authors cited in this poster seem to agree with the need of time to design and integrate such interactive activities in their classes so it could effectively benefit to the students’ learning experience (Gorra and al., 2008; Box and al., 2015; Cross, 2018)

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