Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #212
Gamification and Group Contingencies in the College Classroom
Sunday, May 27, 2018
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor Ballroom HI
Area: EDC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Stephanie A. Hood (California State University, Northridge)
Discussant: Gregory J. Madden (Utah State University)

Undergraduate student success and preparedness are top priorities in higher education. Behavior analysis has a clear home in the college classroom, but experimental analyses in this domain are relatively rare. The current symposium highlights several innovative approaches to the application of behavior analysis in the college classroom and presents data on their efficacy. First, Dr. Debra Berry Malmberg will provide an overview of the manner in which gamification was applied to a large, online course in the psychology major. Second, Jose Solares will present the outcomes of a study comparing a traditional online section to a gamified online section of that same online psychology course. Third, Dr. Kristy Park will present a study on group contingencies and the use of a digital scoreboard in a special education teacher preparation course. Fourth, Elizabeth Krulder will present a study evaluating the gamification of an electronic voting system in an undergraduate history of psychology course. The symposium will conclude with a discussion from Dr. Gregory Madden.

Keyword(s): gamification, group contingencies, teaching higher-education

Game On! Gamification of an Online Undergraduate Course

(Applied Research)
DEBRA BERRY MALMBERG (California State University, Northridge), Tara A. Fahmie (California State University, Northridge), Jose Rafael Solares (California State University, Northridge)

Despite the steady growth of online courses in higher education, debates persist regarding the impact of this platform on learner outcomes when compared to traditional face-to-face courses. Published research on this topic has occurred largely outside of the behavior analytic community. However, the incorporation of educational strategies rooted in behavior analysis undoubtedly influence the efficacy of online instruction. Gamification is one strategy based on behavioral principles that has been used in various contexts with great success (e.g., health, sustainability), though little research exists on its application in higher education settings. Gamification is using elements of games in non-game contexts, and we identified key elements of gamification that could be used in an online course: narrative, choice, levels, badges, goals, challenge, and enhanced feedback. In this project, we designed these elements within a learning management system to provide a gamified asynchronous online course. This presentation will review these applications and positive findings of social validity from students in the course.

Evaluating the Effects of Gamification of an Online Undergraduate Course
(Applied Research)
JOSE RAFAEL SOLARES (California State University, Northridge), Tara A. Fahmie (California State University, Northridge), Debra Berry Malmberg (California State University, Northridge)
Abstract: The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of gamification on numerous student outcomes in an online undergraduate course. Participants were 238 undergraduate psychology majors who were simultaneously enrolled in two sections of a fully online course. We evaluated the effects of gamification on course performance (e.g., quiz scores), course motivation (e.g., meeting recommended early deadlines), professional engagement (e.g., reported likelihood to seek a faculty mentor), and overall satisfaction (e.g., course and instructor evaluations). Both short-term and long-term outcomes were analyzed using a group design. Both sections of the course received identical content, but one section also received the following elements of gamification: narration, choice, levels, badges, goals, challenge, and enhanced feedback. Gamification was shown to improve course pacing and various aspects of course and instructor satisfaction. The implications of the study for the adoption of gamification in higher education and online learning settings will be discussed.

CANCELED: Effects of an Interdependent Group Contingency and Technology to Increase Student Participation in Undergraduate Classrooms

(Applied Research)
KRISTY PARK (George Mason University), Virginia Lee Walker (Illinois State University), Kristin Lyon (University of New Mexico )

Two studies were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of group contingencies on undergraduate student preparedness. In the first study, an alternating treatments design was used to evaluate effects of interdependent group contingency intervention vs. independent group contingency intervention. Results indicate that an interdependent group contingency contributed to more pronounced intervention outcomes, therefore used in the second study. In a multiple baseline design, course instructors awarded extra credit points to groups of undergraduate students who performed at 80% or higher on weekly preparation assessments. Assessments were based on content from weekly reading assignments for a special education teacher preparation course. Group performance was displayed on a digital scoreboard (ClassDojo) during these assessments. Group preparedness improved across all course sections and course instructors found the intervention to be both effective and valuable.

The Effects of Gamifying an Electronic Voting System on Undergraduate Student Quiz and Exam Scores
(Applied Research)
ELIZABETH VIRGINIA KRULDER (California State University, Fresno), Sharlet D. Rafacz (California State University, Fresno)
Abstract: Increasing the number of active responses a student engages in during a class meeting has been shown to increase student academic scores. However, not all methods of increasing active responses have been shown to be consistently effective, including the electronic voting system (EVS). One feature that the EVS lacks when compared to other empirically supported methods of active responding is social consequences. Students are anonymous when answering on an EVS, versus answering out loud in front of peers as is seen in choral responding or response cards. One possible solution may be to incorporate gamification, which is the addition of game elements and social consequences to a non-game activity. The current study examined the effects of gamifying an EVS on academic scores using a counterbalanced treatment reversal design across two undergraduate course sections. Specifically, we looked at how placing students in small groups to compete against each other for extra credit points would impact reading quiz scores and unit exam performance. The effects of gamification versus a standard EVS will be discussed, at both the group and individual level, and other secondary effects and social validity of both approaches evaluated.



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