Games for Learning
In this module, students in CEP813 were asked to learn about how games can be used for assessments. Previously, I’ve only thought about games as something done in my leisure, not necessarily for academic purposes. As a PE teacher, rarely do we use online assessments, let alone online gaming systems. That is, we’d rather see the students out on a field playing rather than using a remote to play. This module got me thinking about how I can definitely take advantage of an online game, however, to gain better insight to what my students are learning and understanding.
First, it’s important to consider my semiotic domain. Gee (2003), described semiotic domains as, “any set of practices that recruits one or more modalities (e.g., oral or written language, images, equations, symbols, sounds, gestures, graphs, artifacts, etc.) to communicate distinctive types of meanings.” This can be anything from chemistry to Super Mario Bros. For the purpose of this planning, I chose the semiotic domain of lacrosse. As a PE teacher, there are many semiotic domains, however, given that I also coach the Varsity girls’ lacrosse team, I thought it was an excellent idea to create a game that would not only help me teach, but also help me coach (after all, they’re basically one in the same!).
Second, it’s important to understand the different internal and external grammars that exist in lacrosse. Internal grammar is “the principles and patterns in terms of which one can recognize what is and what is not acceptable or typical content in a semiotic domain” (Gee, 2003). In the lacrosse world, this includes the specific rules of what is allowed and what isn’t allowed, the techniques of lacrosse (cradling, shooting, saving, checking, etc). External grammar is “the principles and patterns in terms of which one can recognize what is and what is not an acceptable or typical social practice and identity in regard to the… group associated with a semiotic domain” (Gee, 2003). For lacrosse, this includes how players use those rules and techniques to successfully play the game. This can include the strategies and concepts of the game to sportsmanship on and off of the field.
Finally, if I’m creating a game for my semiotic domain of lacrosse, I want to make sure that the procedural rhetoric matches that. In other words, I want to make sure that game reinforces the internal and external grammars of lacrosse. It should make a claim about how the world or lacrosse works, not an objective that could not be carried over to a live game of lacrosse. Ideally, I want to make sure that the strategies of the game help provide insight into my students’ understandings of both internal and external grammar (the rules but also how to play the game of lacrosse).
Planning the Game
So, how will this happen? After exploring Twine, an open source create your own adventure (CYOA) game creation platform. Basically, Twine allows users to create interactive, non-linear stories. This can be anything from your imagination! Knowing where I want to end (a game that helps me identify strengths and areas of improvement in my students’ understandings of lacrosse), I can now use UbD to create a plan of how my assessment will reach that design:
Before beginning, it’s important to check over my ADC 3.0 to ensure that the game meets my assessment standards. These include:
- Is this assessment dynamic and adaptive to each student? Indeed, this assessment will be. CYOA naturally allows students to guide their own learning in an open-ended assessment.
- Does this assessment provide insight to levels of understanding? The idea that students can choose different paths of varying difficulty should not only allow for insight into different levels of understanding but also pinpoint them to specific areas of understanding, too.
- Does this assessment provide effective feedback for learning? First and foremost, it’s important to note that the feedback is based solely off of an individuals decision making (ie not taking other student’s actions into account). Allowing for immediate feedback off of the process and tasks that the student has chosen to perform (you scored a goal/defended one) should also provide effective feedback for the student.
- Does this assessment inform instruction? The biggest thing that needs to be ensured is that the teacher can see the progress and decision-making that every student makes. If those results are available, then this assessment using Twine should inform instruction.
- Does this assessment have clear goals/criteria? There needs to be a clear goal of this game. I envision that a player chooses whether they wish to be defensive or offensive and from there a goal will be set (defend or score). Assuming this takes place, the assessment will have a clear goal.
What the Game Will Look Like
Overall, I envision using Twine to create a strategy game where players will select their character (position) which will give them a goal. Then, they will work through a series of situations where they can choose their own course of action. These situations involve internal grammar (such as abiding by the rules of the game) and external grammar (reading a defense and choosing how to attack it). This will include some desirable answer selections (correct), some that indicate some understanding, and some undesirable answer selections (incorrect). All of these will lead to another situation where the student will have to make another selection. Each “adventure” or situation will have varying levels of difficulty which will challenge the student. Ultimately, the player will either achieve his/her goal or not.
With all of this in mind, it would appear that the procedural rhetoric of this game will match my semiotic domain. That is, my domain is lacrosse, and the game will reinforce the internal and external grammar of actual lacrosse. Furthermore, all of the questions on my ADC 3.0 checklist will be met. I’m really looking forward to the creation of this game!