Example: Gamification in Higher Education

Singapore Management University Teaches statistics in a fun and engaging way

Statistics is not generally considered a favorite subject in school. Many struggle with the concepts while teachers seek to make it more appealing. Rosie Ching of Singapore Management University was determined to teach her first and second year students statistics in a fun and engaging way. She turned to gamification.

Rosie went to the university’s Center for Teaching Excellence for help. With her subject matter expertise and their technical skills, CSI Agent on a Mission game and app was created. Focusing on customer service index (CSI), this serious game teaches students to hone their statistical skills while going on a virtual adventure across seven countries. Each country has a mission students must complete. They earn or loose points based on how they apply their learning.

The game has over 500 options and sixty checkpoints. Students analyze data against benchmarks for each country. The customer service reputations of each country hang in the balance while students earn scores and star ratings. A leaderboard gives the game a competitive edge causing students to take the time to reflect on their performance, seek feedback and try again. The mission statistics theme is actually providing them with a way to apply their skills in hypothesis test and linear regression.

To add to the fun, Rosie created game pieces and personally designed, printed and issued passports. Miss Ching uses her international students to narrate for the missions that take place in their countries.

On university surveys, students give Rosie Ching and her approach excellent reviews. They say it’s engaging and entertaining. The game app has received several awards and has now been downloaded and played in 54 countries. Work is underway to expand the game, adding more countries and options.

Miss Ching and the support team are developing an online dashboard with a better way to keep track of missions and backend analytics. CSI Agent on a Mission is an excellent model for using gamification to teach a difficult subject. Excellent dedication on the instructor’s part, with outstanding support from the university.

With the premise of teaching statistics in a fun and engaging manner for first and second year university students, Rosie Ching created an iPad and Flash game-based app called CSI: Agent on a Mission. This “learn as you play” game takes students on an adventure that spans seven countries with more than 500 options and 60 checkpoints. Each country has a distinct mission and students earn or loose points according to how they apply their learning.

Interactive Game: Learn as You Play

online gamification in higher educationFocusing on the Customer Service Index for each country, students hone their statistical skills through interactive game elements. Step-by-step progressive learning methodology is applied for students to analyze data against benchmarks for each country. The customer service reputations of each country hang in the balance as students earn scores and star ratings. A leaderboard is provided to give a competitive edge and students have time for self-reflection on their performance with feedback provided during and after the game. The mission statistics theme allows students to apply their skills with hypothesis tests and linear regression.

The game has received awards, with students finding it not only educational but enriching, engaging and entertaining. When asked to provide feedback for their courses, one student wrote, “There should be a HIGHER THAN EXCELLENT” option because Ms. Ching deserves better. I have never seen such dedication and passion from an instructor for their module…I hate math but she has inspired me.”

Of interest is the background of innovation for the CSI game. Not every instructor takes the time and care or the innovative approach that Ching has. Taking what many consider a very difficult subject, she dreamed of a way to make it fun. However, she is the subject matter expert and not the technologist so she needed help to create this game.

She approached the SMU Center for Teaching Excellence for help. They fully supported her vision by providing a coder and designer. She provided the script, content and all other needed components and pulled in her own students to provide voices as the narrators throughout the game. For example, her French student, Pierre Chauvarie, narrated the mission in Paris, Australian Selin Erginhas for Down Under, and Aleksandar Georgiev was the voice of the gruff Russian captain.

To add to the fun and experience of the adventure, Ching personally designed, printed and issued passports. On top of all of this, she custom-made a special CSI chop a là Customs. Every CSI agent must get a stamp in his or her passports upon entering and completing mission checkpoints in each country.

For future work on the game, with the soon to be phased out Flash, Ching is working on a browser-free format. She is also extending the mission by adding more countries, options, and opportunities. The only drawback is that CSI currently has no online dashboard. This is because CSI is more of a game than a platform. All missions and scores are reported to CSI Global Headquarters by students submitting their passport and mission screenshots as evidence.

Online Gamification in Higher Education

With the large amount of attention CSI is garnering, Ching is working towards having the support to add development of a dashboard in the future expansion of the game. She is exploring the potential of adding the capabilities of keeping track and back-end analytics. As of now, Ching tracks the CSI traffic and downloads statistics without a dashboard.

In the first 10 months, students from Singapore, Japan, the Netherlands, England and the United States participated in the game. Now it has been downloaded in 54 countries. This is an incredible and innovative way to use gamification in higher education to teach a difficult subject, and shows excellent dedication on the instructor’s part. Hats off to Singapore Management University and Rosie Ching.

Contact: Rosie Ching
rosieching@smu.edu.sg
+65 68280587

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