Earning XP and Grades (Gaming in Teacher Education)

In my last post, I discussed how assignments were set up so that some XP counted for grades and some XP did not. When I shared my directions and scoring for the blogging assignment, I included this chart which outlined how I thought about doing XP:

Type of Quest XP
Heroic Quests (Blogging)
  • Writing Posts
Posts 1-10 500 each
Posts 11-13* 800 each
For a second post in a given week* 500 each
Using appropriate links/pictures/video* 300 per post
  • Writing Comments
For each weekly comment 200 (x2 per week = 400)
Additional comments after the weekly minimum* 300 per comment
Write 20 or more additional comments* 400 per comment (starting with #21)

I then explained the following:

Students can write more than 10 posts, and I will give them more XP. Notice that in these cases there is an * next to the action they could choose to perform. That means that these XP do not count towards their grade at all. For example, students can write an extra post in any given week if they want and earn an additional 800 XP each time they do so. However, this will not help their grade and not doing it will not hurt their grade. Same thing goes for comments. Students can do more, and earn more XP, but doing so is always optional.

I thought it might be helpful if I shared with you my thoughts on this extra XP stuff. Why do it at all? It’s not counting towards a grade, right? Exactly. It’s not counting towards a grade. This is part of the reason why I love it. I hate grades anyways for the most part. I think, when traditionally done, they discourage students from taking risks and encourage conformity to what the instructor wants.

As I was initially creating the XP for my blogging assignment, I started to see that there were all these opportunities to earn additional XP. Obviously I started by identifying the basics. How many posts do students have to write during the semester and how much XP should each be worth?

But then, I started to wonder if I might have students who would really get into blogging and want to do it because it was something they were intrinsically motivated to do. Would some students be interested in commenting more? There are lots of options here for students to explore further if they want to.

However, I know that my students are busy adults with jobs, families, and getting a masters degree. Even if they might want to do extra work, would they see it as something they could fit in to their lives? Could I find a way to encourage them to do so?

XPAs I said in my last post, XP can get students things besides grades. I don’t know if they will be interested in these other things or not (and yes, I’ll be outlining all these options as we progress here). It will be interesting to see what happens when this all goes live. But at this point, in the initial planning stages, I am finding that each assignment presents me with different avenues for giving additional XP. I want to make sure my students have the opportunity to take on these tasks if they want to.

And for me, this was one of the most exciting things about gaming my course when I got started. While I had to set up a baseline in terms of what was required, and how much XP it would be worth, I was able to branch out and identify a range of things students could do that had nothing to do with grades (and was also not extra credit). It was freeing. Could I have thought up all these things before? Yes, and I have.

For example, I have encouraged students in previous classes to blog more than once a week if they so choose. But I am very clear that I will only count one post a week towards their grade. Why? Well, a central part of blogging is regular communication with your readers. Plus, in the course, I expected them to engage with ideas over the duration of the semester on their blogs. If they blogged 10 days in a row and called it quits the assignment would not serve any of its purposes. However, I don’t think anyone has ever blogged extra just because they technically could.

Will they do more now that the structure has shifted? I am anxious to find out.

One Year Ago Today