PhD Seminar

Computer Science
Human-Computer Interaction

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 at 10:00AM

DC 2310


Reading Garden: A Case Study of an In-Classroom Motivational Game

Diane Watson

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science

Textbooks, as supplementary material, are known to improve student outcomes by accommodating multiple learning types and reinforcing material learned in class; however, most students do not often complete assigned readings. We created Reading Garden, a motivational game aimed to get students to read more of the textbook. Reading Garden is a casual, multiplayer game following common design patterns of many social games. For example, it follows the free-to-play model, where the game can always be played for free, but has special advanced actions and decorations that can be purchased with gold a special in-game currency. Players earn gold by completing assigned readings.

We then deployed Reading Garden in three iterations of a human computer interaction courses, in two different departments, at the University of Waterloo. Each study featured an entire class playing the game simultaneously throughout the four-month term. This talk will discuss the results of those ecologically valid deployments, as well as the ethical challenges associated with conducting studies in classrooms.