Engaging Students with “Discovery Learning”, Gamification, and Scenario-Based Education

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Come experience our “trickle up” education project.  Together we’ll explore how we’ve used discovery learning, along with gamification and scenario-based activities, as a way to engage students and support knowledge construction, comprehension, and retention.  We’ll share ideas and tools we utilized within these robust, interactive modules. An accompanying teacher’s guide (in progress) will provide alternative activities to actively engage students in both group settings and personal projects.



Kim Larson brings years of curriculum design and instructional experience in traditional, blended, and online learning. Kim obtained her bachelors degree and teaching certificate in Secondary Education from Eastern Michigan University and her masters degree in Design and Performance Systems from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Kim currently leads a team of professional creatives and eLearning developers with Learning Innovations at Fox Valley Technical College. In her role, she is a primary contact for new customers, leads project scoping and estimating, project staffing and budgeting, and also is involved in designing curriculum with subject matter experts. Prior to working with Fox Valley Technical College, Kim taught high school in both a traditional classroom setting as well as a progressive project and competency based blended program in Michigan. Kim resides in Sherwood, Wisconsin with her family and enjoys spending time with her children, working out and interior decorating.
Emeritus faculty at University of Wisconsin-Madison where I worked fro 15 years as director of distance education at first the School of Nursing and then the School of Veterinary Medicine. I now have my own business and continue to work in distance education, primarily in animal health fields.

Extended Abstract

As part of a USDA-funded project, our Education team took on the challenge of developing online learning modules on biosecurity for 4-H and FFA students, grades 6-12.  Beside the lack of educational materials on this critical topic for this age group, a strong secondary reason was to use “trickle-up” education to reach the older stakeholders in the agricultural and political community.  We endeavored to create highly engaging, independent modules that students can access anywhere, anytime that could also be used in classes or 4-H meetings.  The biosecurity series of 6 modules, while each can stand on their own, builds from basic information to exploration, analysis, and recommendation.  We employed discovery learning where students are asked to answer questions and make decisions based on clues and stories, using their own powers of reasoning.  We also incorporated many activities and elements of gamification to increase students’ time on task and manipulation of the content.  Modules 3 and 4 use scenario-based learning as well, putting the students in the role of a biosecurity inspector whose task it is to identify potential sources of disease transmission and recommend strategies to block those sources.  In the final modules, we encourage and prepare students to be advocates to spread the word and inspire others to action by helping students to research, organize, write, and present their own presentations.  An accompanying teacher’s guide (in progress) will provide alternative activities to actively engage students in both group settings and personal projects.

Participation Level / Interactivity

This session will be conducted as a discovery learning exercise through audience participation.  In groups of 2-4 people, they will share their own experiences using discovery learning in both an online and/or blended learning format. A discussion will follow of ways to incorporate online discovery and scenario-based learning using examples from our biosecurity series.  In small groups, participants will be asked to imagine their own discovery learning activity for a given learning objective. The small group activities will be shared with the whole group, thereby creating a creative list of discovery learning ideas they can apply right away. Slides will be posted on the conference website.

What are attendees going to learn - their takeaways

Through this participatory presentation and demonstration, attendees will learn about the power of “trickle up” education.  They will gain understanding, and access to examples, of online discovery and scenario-based learning as a constructivist based approach to teaching and learning. As a by-product, participants will gain an appreciation for the importance of biosecurity for healthy animals, a healthy food supply, and a healthy economy!