Gamification of Learning for Library Student Employees
From Kimberly Auger on April 7th, 2021
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For my project I created a gamified structure in the D2L Learning Management System to support the learning that takes place during the student employee on-boarding and training in the Digital Learning Studio (DLS) of McNairy Library.
The purpose of this R&D project was to create a consistent and engaging training that develops and improves the learners’ skills for performing tasks in their position and the skill sets that can take them into the next stage of their career. At present, DLS student employees receive some training from their supervisor, the Learning Technologies Librarian, and some from their peers who have previous experience. Training typically takes place through observational learning and peer mentoring. It was determined existing training was not consistent and student employees could benefit from an expansion of content to improve their customer interaction, technical, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
A review of the needs of the learners was conducted and twelve areas of instruction were prioritized. The first six are phase 1 implementation, and the focus of this R&D project. In addition to identifying instructional needs, it was determined the learning should be self-paced, consistent and engaging. The D2L LMS enables student access to self-paced learning in a consistent manner. Gamifying the learning modules creates an engaging learning experience.
Typically, a game is about winning. Gamification, in contrast, is focused on mastery. If poorly designed, by not incorporating learning theory, gamification can move learners away from mastery orientation and towards a performance orientation (Kapp, 2017). It is the goal DLS supervisor for the student employees to learn the content and integrate that content into performance of their daily work. To ensure that the learning was designed to increase student focus on mastery, the design of the learning modules was created in consultation with the Millersville University Instructional Designer, Marie Firestone, and was based in multiple learning theories such as achievement goal theory, self-determination theory, scaffolding, cognitive load, and learner-centered learning.
For the purposes of this project I used Karl Kapp’s definition of gamification: “The process of applying game elements, game mechanics, and game thinking to non-game situations” (2014, 4m 28s). Gamification, as a learning methodology, has been found to increase learner engagement in both academic and work environments (Nah, Zeng, Telaprolu, Ayyappa, & Eschenbrenner, 2014; Zoe, 2018). According to Kapp (2017), gamified learning engages the student at both the cognitive and emotional levels. These are two of the three levels that make up the “multidimensional construct” of engagement, with the third being behavioral (Fredricks et al., 2004, p. 60). Improvements in learning and performance can be linked to engagement (Fredricks et al., 2004; Klem & Connell, 2004). Gamification has been used by businesses to increase engagement in on-boarding and training employees and used classrooms to increase student engagement with their learning.
In consultation with the DLS student supervisor I have selected five game elements, feedback, choice, challenge, story, and aesthetics for the gamification of the DLS training modules. Three of the game elements selected, feedback, choice and challenge, align with several learning theories; student-centered learning, growth mindset, achievement goal, cognitive load, and feedback loops. The other two elements, story and aesthetics, are used to create an immersive experience for the learner through context, guided action, and imagery.
Gamification has not been formally studied as a means for training student employees. The creation of these six gamified modules will contribute to future research in this area. Student employees using these learning modules will be participating in an IRB approved study (IRB Protocol No. 500519621) in the fall of 2021.