Monday, May 12, 2014

Gamification Series Part 9: XP & Grades by Attrition

First, any transition into mastery (or competency-based) learning turns the traditional grading method on its head.  Since our gamified course is rooted in mastery learning, how to grade students became a central question that I needed to address.

CHANGE # 1  From Average to XP Total

Instead of averaging assessments throughout the unit, each student continuously accumulates points, or XP, until their "final score."

Why?  Well, it seems that students are more motivated when they witness their score going up and up. Think about it from a students' perspective.  If you have a 95% average, and you successfully demonstrate mastery of the next objective with a 90%, you are rewarded with a LOWER average. Some reward.

Here is a screenshot of the XP scale that we used in Scenario 1 with it's corresponding grade.

There was no magic formula when creating this.  I simply determined how many XP points were needed to demonstrate basic mastery of each objective (mission).  This minimum total was the C range. I then added up the maximum XP available and made that the A+ range.   I know this is not a perfect system, but it is iteration #1 that I hope to keep improving upon. 

CHANGE #2  Grading Both Mastery & Progress

How do I determine a students' grade when report cards come out?  I've developed a system that takes both Mastery and Progress into consideration.

Mastery Grade

This reflects a students grade on each objective.  These grades are then averaged and weighted at 50%.
Objectives that students do not get to are not entered as a 0.   That is where the Progress grades comes into play.

Progress Grade

This is the score reflected in the student's end of unit XP total (see chart above).   This is also weighted at 50%.

Student A demonstrates mastery of the first 6 objectives with flying colors and earns a Mastery Grade of 100%.  This student, however, did not complete the final 2 objectives and only earned 600 XP (see chart above).  This correlates to Progress Grade of 80%.   Student A's report card grade is then a 90%.


1. Do not be hesitant to create high XP totals for all assignments.  Creating assignments worth 120 XP are more motivating that those worth 5.  Again, it may seem trivial, but somehow it works. 

2.  Assign XP for each step of complex tasks.  If it will take an entire week for a student to earn XP, consider breaking it up into steps that provide more frequent feedback and positive reinforcement. 

3. BONUS XP challenges are a big hit.  For example, use this to bring in real-world situations or push students thinking into new realms. 

4.  If you think there are major issues with this grading system, tinker with it until you are comfortable.  Also please share your suggestions regarding how it can be improved!


Complete Gamification Series