Gamifying Formative Assessments

Gamifying Formative Assessments

Dr Vasilis Louca, School of Biological Sciences


Dr Vasilis Louca, School of Biological Sciences explains how gamification increases student motivation and engagement in online learning.


People (especially younger people and students), often spend significant amount of time engaged in playing online games. The element of competition that is core to playing games, is one of the main drivers that engage them into this process. I have implemented game approaches into my teaching for one of my level 3 courses, which were entirely online (MyAberdeen) based, as well as self-marked. This led to an increased engagement from the students taking the course.


These online activities (termed “Challenges” in the course), were implemented entirely online. Students were presented with a series of challenges, which they had to complete individually and then submit online through MyAberdeen as online quizzes which were marked automatically. For each activity they earned points for completing the activity as well as for the number of correct answers they got. These points were tallied daily and presented in a leader board on MyAberdeen. At the end of the course, the top students were awarded extra credit.


The primary outcome of the implementation of this online game approach, was the increased levels of engagement that students demonstrated throughout the course. Grades (independent from the extra credit given), also improved, which demonstrates the higher levels of engagement and, very importantly, understanding that the students developed following the implementation of this online, formative assessment


To recognise and reward achievement, students who completed the online formative component of the course also received a digital badge.  


I have compared student attainment, pre and post implementation of this approach, with the students, on average, performing better at the summative assessments. Student course evaluations were also analysed. Student enjoyment of the course improved significantly. The students made many more positive comments about the course and acknowledged themselves that these online formative assessments helped them understand difficult concepts covered in the course better. Specifically, and in relation to this online formative assessment, the students were very positive about it, commenting on how they enjoyed competing against their classmates.


This approach was presented at the University Learning & Teaching Network meeting. I have also presented this at a workshop at the University of Highlands and Islands. Ideally, this approach will be also disseminated through a scientific publication which will also include results relating to the increased performance and levels of enjoyment of the students post implementation of this approach.