Exploring Game Mechanics Using Student E-Portfolio Assignments

Concurrent Session 10

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Explore how game mechanics are being applied to student e-portfolio development while increasing motivation and engagement. Deliverables are used to “level-up” from beginner status (NOOB) to the highest level (EXPERT). These deliverables stand as worthy artifacts on their own merits, ensuring the student’s e-portfolio will survive long after graduation.


Walters serves as Interim Chair for the Department of Informatics at Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS. She is an associate professor within the field of web and mobile application development. For the past 19 years, she has taught both virtual and campus courses in database design and development, full-stack web and mobile application development, and human-computer interaction. Her research interests include trust mechanisms within the online environment, responsive design, student motivation, and academic integrity, and mobile learning accessibility.

Extended Abstract

Gamification strategy can be an effective method for increasing student motivation and decreasing the potential for isolation and disengagement in online courses. Understanding the art of game mechanics is beneficial and can only be cultivated through trial and error. Faculty within the Department of Informatics have been been applying game mechanics to multiple assignments and sharing both successes and pitfalls. In this session, we will explore the key elements we believe are important to most gamification strategies while sharing how they are being applied to student e-portfolio development. Results have been positive. Student motivation has improved, assignment completion rates have increased, and student scores have improved. The goal is not to create a new game or turn the course into a game, but rather incorporate game mechanics into the core content. Using the e-portfolio example, we see how asking student to create their superhero aviator engages them from the beginning while requiring them to reflect on who they want to be and what skills they want to develop and share in their portfolio. The deliverables show them how to go from zero to hero, offering clarity in the learning journey. Using a rewards-based system motivates them to up a level and unlock bonuses. In the end, the portfolio tells their story in their own personalized way. We hope to share the experiences of our faculty while providing a concrete example of successful implementation. After sharing our story, we will ask the participants to share their experiences and explorations with game mechanics. Next, we will use the think, pair, share method to promote personal reflection and group activity. During reflection, participants will create their own teaching superhero persona and consider ways in which they can apply and/or improve game mechanics to their course design. While reflecting, we will organize participants into groups based on discipline (information collected at the beginning of the session). Following reflection, they will join their groups, initially pairing with someone at the table to share ideas. Participants will then share ideas and thoughts with all group members at the table. One member from each group will post ideas to the PollEverywhere platform. Participants will leave with the collective list of ideas as well as a mindmap of this brainstorming process.