Gamification Roundtable at CCCC '14

When I wrote my Master’s thesis in 2006 on game-based pedagogy in the composition classroom, it was greeted with both excitement and apprehension by my review panel. Nearly a decade later, this continues to be the response that a number of instructors—writing or otherwise—express when considering what an effective gamified or game-based classroom environment looks like.

To address some of the elements of this tension, my fellow Old Dominion University colleagues and I will be hosting a roundtable session during the upcoming Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) titled “Ludic(rous?) Pedagogy: The Promises and Pitfalls of Gamifying the Composition Classroom.” In proposing the roundtable, the most difficult element was determining how we wanted to structure our divergent viewpoints on a gamified composition classroom. We eventually decided to self-select theoretical camps that each of us would represent during the discussion: the materialist (Dr. Kevin Moberly), the constructivist (Danielle Roach), the pragmatist (Matthew Beale), the behaviorist (Megan McKittrick), and the narratologist (Kristopher Purzycki, formerly of ODU—now at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee). This approach will allow each of us to not only explore the problematic elements of gamification based on our own pedagogical and research investments, but also set up the discussion in a way that will prompt debate.

Our goal for the panel is to create a space that will give faculty members and students of varying backgrounds an opportunity to work through—and parse out—a number of issues that constitute the practice of gamification. Some of these issues include the ways in which gamified learning often uses the “banking model” of instruction at its roots, the rhetorical strategies employed when discussing (and promoting) gamified learning, and the efficacy of varying game designs that are deployed within gamification frameworks. Most importantly, though, is that this panel is meant to open a dialog among not only the presenters, but the audience members as well. We are eager to learn how composition scholars from across the country wrestle with gamified learning and what it means to have a gamified classroom.

For those of you who will be attending the CCCC, the roundtable will be held on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 1:45 in room 105. We hope that you will join us and contribute your voice to this important discussion.


Image on front page from Citt and available on Flickr. 


Being somewhat of a constructivist myself, I can definitely see how using a student's prior knowledge of something they enjoy, such as playing a game, can enhance their ability to learn through this method. If the student has little confidence in themselves as a learner, it may make it difficult for them to believe they can grasp the complex knowledge delivered in a classroom setting. However, it seems to make sense that if they feel they are successful gamers, and we re-frame their education through this lens, then they may feel more comfortable with learning, and subsequently grasping and retaining previously complex concepts. Although this may bring about the question "If learning is now a game, then how do we separate the two?" in the debate surrounding what it means to combine "work" with activities previously thought of as "leisure," I believe students today are more than capable of maintaining this separation.  In my experience with game-based learning, I felt that I was aware the games I played in a classroom setting were developed to assist me in my education, and they did not create any resulting conflict about how I engage in fun outside the classroom.  I didn't feel as if I was a passive character in the classroom games, especially when allowed to create gaming schemes of my own. Since I have never experienced this type of learning in a college classroom, I'd be very interested to hear how scholars feel about this debate, and to better understand the gamified classroom as it exists with so many new technologies at our fingertips. Although I will not be able to attend the conference, I hope some of the results make their way back to the pages of Media Commons. 

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