Campus and Community

IEEE publishes article by Técnico professors on New Teaching Methods and Pedagogical Practices

The article analyses how different students interact with a gamified course, based on the experience acquired in Multimedia Content Production course.

The Multimedia Content Production (MCP) course, which is part of Computer Science and Engineering MSc programme, brought together the Técnico professors Sandra Gama, Jaime Jorge and Daniel Gonçalves. Over the past 10 years, the professors have made a series of experiences on innovative Teaching Methods and Pedagogical Practices with MCP students, which resulted in the study entitled “How do Students Behave in a Gamified Course? A Ten Year Study”, recently published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Professor Joaquim Jorge highlights “MCP enabled us to explore hybrid teaching approaches and disseminate them in the scientific community. We don’t know any another group that has conducted experiments for such a long time and with such considerable results”.

“Our methodology is based on the Self-Determination Theory, which aims to motivate students through the individual pursuit of excellence, peer recognition and search for individual paths”, explains professor Jaime Jorge. “MCP uses a quantum assessment mechanism, and students are granted whenever they are performing course activities”, he adds.

According to professor Sandra Gama, MCP includes classic game mechanisms – experience points, levels, leaderboard, badges – to create a gamified experience. “We created a series of mechanisms to amplify students’ immersion in the game, providing greater social, cognitive and teaching presence”, highlights the professor.

The professors’ analysis identified four different student groups (profiles/clusters) according to their performance and interactions with the course across all years.

One of the conclusions that can be drawn from this analysis is that the best performing students were those that had significantly more interactions with course materials and consistently ranked highest. “In addition, we also found out that performance indicators for students of all groups became stable within the first month after course start, which allows to predict final grades with high accuracy. Furthermore, we noticed that students were deadline driven and became mainly active at the end of the semesters, indicating a lack of self-regulation skills”, explains professor Jaime Jorge.

“It is always difficult to assess the direct impact [of gamified learning] on student performance, if measured only by their final grade, given the diversity of factors that contribute to it”, stresses professor Daniel Gonçalves. Student stratification reveals their performance and motivation, and is reflected in these results. “In addition to student profiles that could be easily found in more traditional subjects, we identified a significant number of highly motivated students right from the start. These students actively strive to take advantage of gamified learning throughout the semester and not at specific moments”, adds the professor. “This results in quite high but well-deserved grades at the end,”, he stresses.

The Técnico professors intend to extend this study to other courses. “It will allow us to understand the success of gamification in different contexts, with programmatic content different from what we have had. On the other hand, we have been increasingly adapting the gamification experience taking into account the individual needs of students, which has a very significant impact on the entire teaching-learning process”, says professor Sandra Gama.

Personality models, gaming profiles and learning styles “make all the difference in the way a person behaves towards a goal, towards a game and towards their peers”, highlights professor Sandra Gama. The three Técnico professors propose to create mechanisms for designing compelling gamified learning experiences.

The Covid-19 pandemic had almost no impact on MCP effectiveness. “MCP methodology, which has always been supported by tools created for this purpose, and with a very strong online component, has been transferred directly to the remote model without the need for any adaptations”, says professor Daniel Gonçalves. “In addition, the results did not differ from those obtained in previous years, showing that it is possible to keep students engaged and motivated, even in more extreme situations”, adds the professor.