Grades and Games

Initial Publication Date: June 2, 2004

Throughout this module, games are presented as an alternative form of assessment to grading, but there are a variety of strategies to deal with grading a course that uses games.

Keeping Grades and Games Separate

  • Reserve grades for tasks of the sort that are used to assess people in the working world or for tasks which are themselves learning experiences.
    • Written assignments: lab reports, research papers, even well-defended opinion pieces
    • Design Work: creating a game, lesson plan, poster, web site, etc.
    • Presentations: speech, Powerpoint, debate
    • Problem Sets: word problems with mathematical and/or graphical solutions (essential for evolution or structural geology)
    • Maps/Diagrams: or written interpretations of the same
  • Use games to prepare students for exams: the challenges are basically practice exam questions
    • Stress to the students that if they are having trouble succeeding in the game, they need to spend more time preparing for exam

Giving Grades for Game Performance

  • Have students compete for bonus points
    • After a tough exam, you may want to give students a second chance to learn the material. So, run a game in which the challenges are similar to the questions or tasks that students had trouble with on the exam.
  • Set the number of points needed to get a given grade before starting the game, especially if it is not timed.
    • Will the students be playing and being graded as teams?
    • One or more players are going to try to get more than 100% of the max. graded score. Do you allow extra credit?
  • Avoid turning a competitive game into an exam graded on a curve: this is likely to give you the worst problems of games and of grades together.