Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gameplay Engagement and Learning in Game-Based Learning

Purple Earlier this week I listened to student presentations about the use of educational games, and very good they were too. But I'm a sceptic when it comes to games in education, believing that there's usually a better in answer. In spite of that, games won't go away, so this systematic review is about the best there is at telling you everything you need to know.

Gameplay Engagement and Learning in Game-Based Learning: A Systematic Review. Review of Educational Research March 25, 2015, doi: 10.3102/0034654315577210
In this review, we investigated game design features that promote engagement and learning in game-based learning (GBL) settings. The aim was to address the lack of empirical evidence on the impact of game design on learning outcomes, identify how the design of game-based activities may affect learning and engagement, and develop a set of general recommendations for GBL instructional design. The findings illustrate the impact of key gaming features in GBL at both cognitive and emotional levels. We also identified gaming trends and several key drivers of engagement created by the gaming features embedded within GBL, as well as external factors that may have influences on engagement and learning.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why do we bother?

Eclipsed I sense a change in the air surrounding SoTL, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. It would be nice to think that this is a post-REF shift, when we finally have time to focus on something more productive, but I don't think it is. I sensed the change during the later phases of the REF frenzy and it's been around for a while. Of course, the future is not evenly distributed, and it's never going to be - culture is local not global and Departments differ widely in their teaching quality.

Over the next couple of months I'm booked for a couple of runs of my PedR workshop. (I'm on trend as ever - bookings being taken, just contact my agent.) So this recent musing by Graham Scott is of interest as background to the current situation where SoTL is a box that must be ticked. It turns out the answer is quite simple - we do SoTL for the same reason as anyone does any research.

...I am not primarily interested in the mechanisms by which we disseminate our teaching practice – we illustrate symposium presentations using digital media, we disseminate through social media, we blog and we submit papers to online journals for example. Instead my primary focus is a desire to better understand our motivations to share our practice. In so doing I hope to gain some insight into our experiences as professionals who are often be viewed as being at the intersection of two areas of academic practice, teaching and research, and at the boundary that exists between disciplinary areas...

Scott G. Why do we bother? Exploring biologists' motivations to share the details of their teaching practice. F1000Research 2015, 4: 46. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.6129.1

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Want your science communication videos to be wildly popular on YouTube? Here's how.

YouTube I've had an on/off relationship with YouTube over the years. Effectively YouTube won and is the only game in town for videos (assuming you actually want people to watch what you produce). I'm currently on just over 1.6 million views with just under 700 subscribers, but I've never had the resources (mostly time) to devote to a dedicated push towards building a committed YouTube audience, preferring instead to focus my limited time on this (and other) blogs. Over the years I've thought about trying to figure out what would be required to achieve this, but apart from gut instinct, it's not easy to figure out. This is about the best analysis I've read of science communication on YouTube. It's not particularly good reading for science communication professionals, and certainly not for scientific publishers. Like me, they are clearly struggling with YouTube. Interestingly, the findings are a vindication of the Just Do It philosophy of the EduPunk days. Remember then?

Will Grant. (2015) Science communication on YouTube: Factors that affect channel and video popularity. Public Understanding of Science, 19 February 2015. doi: 10.1177/0963662515572068
YouTube has become one of the largest websites on the Internet. Among its many genres, both professional and amateur science communicators compete for audience attention. This article provides the first overview of science communication on YouTube and examines content factors that affect the popularity of science communication videos on the site. A content analysis of 390 videos from 39 YouTube channels was conducted. Although professionally generated content is superior in number, user-generated content was significantly more popular. Furthermore, videos that had consistent science communicators were more popular than those without a regular communicator. This study represents an important first step to understand content factors, which increases the channel and video popularity of science communication on YouTube.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's not flipping magic, just hard work

"This study shows that the flipped classroom does not result in higher learning gains or better attitudes over the nonflipped classroom when both utilize an active-learning, constructivist approach.'

Of course, if you just bore them to death with PowerPoint, YMMV.

Jensen JL, Kummer TA, Godoy PD. (2015) Improvements from a flipped classroom may simply be the fruits of active learning. CBE Life Sci Educ. 2015 Mar 2;14(1). pii: ar5. doi: 10.1187/cbe.14-08-0129
The "flipped classroom" is a learning model in which content attainment is shifted forward to outside of class, then followed by instructor-facilitated concept application activities in class. Current studies on the flipped model are limited. Our goal was to provide quantitative and controlled data about the effectiveness of this model. Using a quasi-experimental design, we compared an active nonflipped classroom with an active flipped classroom, both using the 5-E learning cycle, in an effort to vary only the role of the instructor and control for as many of the other potentially influential variables as possible. Results showed that both low-level and deep conceptual learning were equivalent between the conditions. Attitudinal data revealed equal student satisfaction with the course. Interestingly, both treatments ranked their contact time with the instructor as more influential to their learning than what they did at home. We conclude that the flipped classroom does not result in higher learning gains or better attitudes compared with the nonflipped classroom when both utilize an active-learning, constructivist approach and propose that learning gains in either condition are most likely a result of the active-learning style of instruction rather than the order in which the instructor participated in the learning process.

Friday, February 20, 2015



Increasing Student Engagement with Practical Classes Through Online Pre-Lab Quizzes
Altmetric: This article scored 5.56

So far Altmetric has tracked 55 articles from this journal. They typically receive a little less attention than average, with a mean score of 2.7 vs the global average of 5.1. This article has done well, scoring higher than 83% of its peers. It's actually the 9th highest scoring article in this journal that we've seen so far.

Older articles will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this score to the 62,824 tracked articles that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any journal. This article has done well, scoring higher than 83% of its contemporaries.

More generally, Altmetric has tracked 2,826,483 articles across all journals so far. Compared to these this article has done well and is in the 83rd percentile: it's in the top 25% of all articles ever tracked by Altmetric.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Multiple-choice tests - all guesswork?

Multiple-choice test formats When I started in this business, MCQs were regarded as beyond the pale. Now they are increasingly de rigeur as the only way to cope. So, discuss:
MCQs: necessary evil or spawn of Satan?
No, wait, don't - we'll be here all day. Use MCQs or don't use MCQs, it's up to you. But if you use them, at least know what you're doing. Which is where this rather good short review comes in useful.

Reducing the need for guesswork in multiple-choice tests. (2014) Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(2): 218-231, doi: 10.1080/02602938.2014.902192
The humble multiple-choice test is very widely used within education at all levels, but its susceptibility to guesswork makes it a suboptimal assessment tool. The reliability of a multiple-choice test is partly governed by the number of items it contains; however, longer tests are more time consuming to take, and for some subject areas, it can be very hard to create new test items that are sufficiently distinct from previously used items. A number of more sophisticated multiple-choice test formats have been proposed dating back at least 60?years, many of which offer significantly improved test reliability. This paper offers a new way of comparing these alternative test formats, by modelling each one in terms of the range of possible test taker responses it enables. Looking at the test formats in this way leads to the realisation that the need for guesswork is reduced when test takers are given more freedom to express their beliefs. Indeed, guesswork is eliminated entirely when test takers are able to partially order the answer options within each test item. The paper aims to strengthen the argument for using more sophisticated multiple-choice test formats, especially for high-stakes summative assessment.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Talking sense about feedback - don't change the feedback, change the students

Pigeon Once again, Graham Gibbs latest post on feedback on the SEDA blog makes so much sense it's impossible not to share it (Making feedback work involves more than giving feedback). A few choice quotes to persuade you to go and read it:

Successful students make quite different use of feedback than unsuccessful students and one approach to making feedback more effective is to simply change average and weak students’ habits so that they use feedback as successful students do.

One of the reasons some students read and pay attention to feedback, while others don’t, is not that some are ‘assessment literate’ while others are not, but that some do not see the point: it does not help them achieve what they want to achieve. Idea No. 1 outlined the different orientations students have been found to display. They want to achieve different things and they pay attention to different things as a consequence. If all a student is interested in is passing or progression to the next stage, then actually learning about the subject matter from feedback may not be on their agenda, especially if the course is almost over or there is no follow-up course that builds on the subject matter. Changing students’ orientation is not at all easy but it is possible to make it difficult for students to pass unless they engage seriously with the course, whether they like it or not. It is also possible to make it easy for students to ignore the teacher’s agenda and still pass, and many courses and their assessment regimes achieve this dubious distinction. Teachers may bemoan how instrumental students have become, but they also often collude to make instrumentalism quite a successful strategy, in order to avoid too many students failing.