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Designing College More Like a Video Game

In Chapter 4 “Designing College More Like a Video Game” of the book Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning, José Antonio Bowen talks about how to motivate students to think in new ways.

When students make the transition from high school to college, they are asked to alter the way of thinking that had previous led to success. This is a substantial change being asked of them, under conditions that punish failure, and it comes at the start of college, when anxiety about change and failure are at their peak.

It has been shown, through empirical evidence, that the combination of high expectations and low stakes matter for learning; these are the same conditions that make a good video game. However, being approachable and supportive also improves learning.

In order to lower the risk of failure while still maintaining high standards, the means of assessment will need to be reviewed and rethought. By increasing the amount of exams, each individual exam will have less of an impact on the final grade, reducing the risk.

Video games are similar to a series of tests that are innately motivating, unlike most exams encountered in college. Instructors can act like game developers, creating exams that follow a narrative or tackle a problem, as a result tests would become more fun and interesting. By giving consideration to the format of exams, instructors can increase motivation and reduce the stress of their students.

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