Prototype of skill overview sheets for use in skill-based gamification of precalculus/calculus instruction

Skill overview sheets for gamification

I have produced several so-called “skill overview sheets” that I intend to use as a teacher in the upcoming semester in my precalculus/calculus instruction. The target audience are students at ages 16-17.

I have provided links to PDFs of the sheets below. The sheets describe most of the learning goals for the semester in a carefully designed way, which you will see. The sheets are worded in Norwegian, however I believe you can get the picture of what I am trying to do.

2013_06_30_ferdigheter_tall_og_algebra – Google Drive

2013_06_30_ferdigheter_sannsynlighetsregning – Google Drive

2013_06_30_ferdigheter_trigonometri_og_geometri – Google Drive

2013_06_30_ferdigheter_derivasjon_og_funksjonsdrøfting – Google Drive

Why I chose Google Docs as a medium for skill overview sheets

I chose Google Docs as a medium because I needed several features:

  • Collaboration (in the future)
  • Visual structuring of learning goals (“skills”) using tables
  • Support for mathematical notation
  • Hyperlink support
  • Support for “publishing to the web”, which enables easy Fronter (LMS) integration

Possible applications for gamification

I haven’t thought much yet about how these skill overview sheets could be used in gamification of instruction and assessment. Here are some properties of the sheets at first glance that could possibly prove useful for gamification:

  • Each learning goal is neatly presented in a visual way. By limiting the number of skills/learning goals, I communicate to the students: “This is what I expect you to learn, no more, no less. If you can master all of this, you will earn the highest grade.”
  • Each sheet has two sections. “Advanced” skills (upper section), and “Basic” skills (lower section), separated by a line. The idea is that assessment will focus on the relatively small number of advanced skills. By design however, mastery of any advanced skill also requires the mastery of a large number of basic skills. This gives the student the motivation for mastering every skill on the sheet, even though only a few of the skills will actually be assessed.
  • There are some very crude elements of a hiearchy and they are restricted exlusively for advanced skills. Some advanced skills lead to others, as indicated by small arrows. This may increase motivation with students (“I need that skill in order to master the other”).
  • Skill descriptions are very brief and are presented on a coloured rectangular shape. Each learning goal is in effect a tiny “skill card”, which opens up possibilities for game mechanics which involve the use of cards. In order to stimulate memorisation, individual skill cards could be attached to surfaces in the homes where the students would frequently look at them.
  • If every student printed out their own copy of the skill overview sheets, they could easily keep track of which skills that are “in progress” and which skills that they have already mastered. This property could potentially activate student desire for “hoarding” of mastered skills. It is easy to imagine some kind of gamification scheme that would reward the student with development points for a fictional character, or grant some kind of story-based reward, in return for the student’s hoarding of mastered skills.

Limitations by non-interactivity

At its current state, my skill overview sheet is quite limited with regard to interactivity. There is the possibility for hyperlinks that could lead to a web page offering further descriptions of each skill as well as instructional videos, but that’s about it.

In the future I could envision developing an interactive version of the skill overview sheet. By using web programming and touch screen devices, a student’s progress with each skill could be easily registered by touch input, and the skill overview sheet could change accordingly in order to display a status for each skill.

In the meantime however, I will focus on executing a full semester of math instruction using these sheets in their current non-interactive state and establish a proof-of-concept on the gamification that they hopefully will enable.

Conclusion

If you would like to know how to make skill overview sheets like these yourself using tables in Google Docs, feel free to contact me. I could even make a blog post about it if someone asked me.

As always, feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading.