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Since you don’t have that face-to-face time you’d have with a professor in the traditional classroom, it’s important that you be absolutely explicit with your comments and requests. If you are having technical difficulties, or problems understanding something about the course, you MUST speak up otherwise there is no way that anyone will know that something is wrong. Attempt to utilize your reading materials and classmates first before employing your instructors help. This critical review, underpinned by a constructivist epistemology, aims to bring game-informed learning and assessment principles together in an attempt to reframe online assessment. Play has been defined by a number of seminal authors in the field of play studies as an activity which is voluntary, intrinsically motivating, involving some form of engagement and having make-believe attributes (Blanchard and Cheska 1985, Csikszentmihalyi 1981, Garvey 1977, Yawkey and Pellegrini 1984).
With the advent of personal computers and the emergence of digital technologies, a number of the aforementioned game characteristics have been strengthened and appear more robust in digital gaming platforms.
According to Norman (1993), optimal learning takes place in contexts which offer intensive interaction and feedback, have goals and procedures, are motivating, challenging and engaging, provide appropriate tools and avoid distractions. However and more importantly, as a number of researchers have pointed out (Gee 2007, Malone and Lepper 1987, Rieber 1996), rather than focusing exclusively on content-learning, good games have the ability to sustain more complex competencies as they cater for various types of cognitive learning strategies and skills like problem solving (Kiili 2007) and systematic thinking (Klopfer et al 2009).
Based on the literature presented above, the term game-informed learning (GIL) is defined in this critical review as the use of gameplay elements and principles of learning found in good game designs to enhance learning and assessment practices.
The practices and environment surrounding the game-informed nature of learning presented in the previous section are to be constructively aligned with one another in order to strengthen the existing relationship between the intended learning outcomes, teaching methods and assessment strategies (Biggs 2003).
Hence, a successful GIL environment essentially necessitates a congruent model for assessment, where the perceived demands of the assessed tasks are in harmony with the game-informed character of the learning process.
The online environment presents itself as an interesting digital space in which assessment practices can be successfully implemented and enhanced.
The gameplay elements and principles of learning which characterise the game-informed nature discussed in this critical review, lay the foundations for a constructivist learning environment where the learner is an active constructor of personal meaningful knowledge (Bruner 1990) through cognitive (Piaget 1972), experiential (Kolb 1984) and social (Vygotsky 1978) dimensions. The term game-informed online assessment (GIOA) originates from the constructivist interplay between a game-informed approach to learning and online assessment and is based on the belief that both games (Barab et al 2005, Gee 2005, Squire 2005) and assessment (Boud 2007, Carless 2007, Hargreaves 2007) embody and promote meaningful learning experiences. The framework starts with the identification of the main gameplay elements (Table 1) that provide the basis for the principles of learning found in good game designs. Sources: Begg et al 2005, Begg et al 2007, Begg 2008, de Freitas 2006, Gee 2004, Gee 2005, Gee 2007, Greenfield 1984, McKenzie and O'Shea 2007, Squire 2003, Squire 2008, Steinkuehler 2004, Whitton 2009.
A review of literature on assessment was then undertaken and a number of common themes emerging from the different frameworks, models and principles of assessment were identified (Table 2).
Sources: Birenbaum et al 2006, Black and Wiliam 2009, Boud 2007, Carless 2007, Chickering and Gamson 1991, Crooks 1988, Gibbs and Simpson 2004-5, Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2012, Nicol and MacFarlane-Dick 2006, Rowntree 1987, Rust 2007, Sadler 1989. The main gameplay elements were then re-analysed with respect to the different assessment themes, in an attempt to bring GIL and assessment together. In this section, the main gameplay elements identified previously are presented as the foundations for the principles of learning found in good game designs and discussed in an online assessment context. Good games always provide a context (Whitton 2009) where the player experiences and tests knowledge in an authentic and embodied way (Gee 2007).
The contextual affordances of games also serve as a safe learning and experimental space where the player can take risks with significant lower real-life consequences (Gee 2007). On the other hand, conventional means of assessment are generally generic and static and still largely dominated by a one-size-fits-all postulation which must be challenged in pursue of a more inclusive and personal mode of assessment (Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) 2007). The scaffolding strategy found in this highly responsive environment, promotes a replay and practice philosophy (Gee 2007), where the players, as well as the learners, learn to fail better each time. Players achieve expertise in games through independent as well as collaborative efforts (Squire 2008, Steinkuehler 2004), as both knowledge and skills do not reside solely in the player, but are distributed across the individual, peers and in the various surrounding tools and technologies (Gee 2007). For instance, online multiplayer games, allow players to work together in exploring and solving tasks (Kiili 2005) in a truly collaborative learning environment (Fawns 2012).
Hence, the different members of the group can complement each other in endeavour to develop a shared understanding of knowledge (Hargreaves 2007). GIOA valorises peer interaction and facilitates collaboration by encouraging assessed group initiatives like collaborative planning and writing tasks (Alvarez et al 2012).
Levelling up in a game is a tangible sign of progression (Greenfield 1984), whereas improvement is only usually possible through feedback which is both in time and on demand (Gee 2004). This highly contrasts with the immediate performance feedback afforded by games (Malone 1982).
Online assessment environments afford a substantial shift in emphasis from feedback to feedforward, starting from a greater effectiveness and flexibility in producing and publishing digital feedback (Crossouard and Pryor 2009). Traditionally, assessment is designed, developed, delivered and evaluated by the teacher (Yu 2011). GIOA seeks to extend the sense of agency and empowerment experienced by the players in games (Gee 2004). Play and games in particular have the potential to act as transformative learning tools (Shute and Ke 2012). This critical review has presented a conceptual basis for a game-informed online assessment (GIOA) framework that complements and possibly enhances any GIL experience. The 5 guiding principles which embody the framework are intended to form a coherent and complementary whole, rather than a linear arrangement of distinct and detached elements. Also, if you don’t understand something, chances are several people have the same question. This has led assessment practices to struggle in keeping up with pedagogical and technological innovations mainly due to external and increased institutional demands for reliability and validity (Knight 2001).
The review starts by examining the intrinsic relationship between play, games and learning. These qualities include the ability to (i) offer instant and interactive feedback (ii) store and manipulate information in a myriad of forms (text, images, audio, 3D content, etc.) (iii) automate complex procedures (iv) facilitate communication amongst players (Salen and Zimmerman 2004).
This fairly wide definition has led to the deployment of games as hosts in which curricular content is embedded (Ke 2008, Vogel et al 2006) in an endeavour to stimulate and engage the learner (Kirriemuir 2002, Oblinger 2004). He identifies 36 learning principles that game designers have successfully embedded into the game designs (Gee 2007) and that gamers need to effectively undertake in order to fully master the game.


This definition neither implies nor precludes the use of games or game-like activities but inherently and more importantly shifts the focus from the actual game to the gameplay elements and principles of learning found within.
This fundamentally encourages the students to adopt a deeper learning approach, in terms of both the strategy and motive (Scouller 1998) as the game-informed nature poses a higher cognitive demand on the assesses (de Freitas 2006) rather than promote the crude reproduction of knowledge as the end goal (Squire and Jenkins 2003). First of all, online assessment affords a bigger and more effective range of assessment formats, like portfolio, peer- and self-assessment (Palloff and Pratt 2009), without necessarily a decline in quality (Byrnes and Ellis 2006). This learner-centred approach brings the student towards an effective assimilation and accommodation of knowledge (Piaget 1962), through a number of game-informed learning experiences. These 5 main elements, which distinguish GIL pedagogies and constitute the foundation for GIOA, were identified via an analysis and synthesis of the relevant literature and through personal experience of gameplay. Consequently, a set of 5 guiding principles (explicated in the following section) were developed, thereby giving birth to a conceptual framework that serves as a fresh lens for looking at online assessment.
Meaning is neither general nor decontextualised, but is instead situated in the words, actions and surrounding environment (Gee 2007).
This space, called a psychosocial moratorium (Erikson 1956), is reflected and has the potential to be replicated in a number of game-informed online activities as exemplified in the Labyrinth System (Begg et al 2007) and The Assault Cycle (McKenzie and O'Shea 2007). One such attempt is represented by the principle behind computer adaptive testing (CAT), where the assessee starts at a moderate level or 'concentrated sample' (Gee 2007, p 142) and proceeds according to the performance on the preceding test items (Challis 2005). This implies that learning is a social practice and is a result of the various actions and interactions surrounding the learning environment (Davies 2009). In particular, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) facilitate the use of collaborative learning approaches (de Freitas and Griffith 2007) as they can support intrinsic motivation and engagement – two essential prerequisites for successful group work (Davies 2009). In an educational context, this socially constructed form of knowledge allows the students to test their hypothesis with their peers, receive valuable feedback and thus effectively explore their own learning in a short period of time (Willey and Gardner 2010). Wikis and blogs are effective online tools that support collaboration, peer review and reflection (Hatzipanagos and Warburton 2009), as they represent valid means for preserving information through time that can be easily accessed by anyone and from anywhere (Naismith et al 2011). Although feedback on learning and in assessment practices has the same effect as in games, it is still a major concern and source of dissatisfaction for students in higher education (Hounsell 2008, Nicol 2010). Such feedback is both informative and constructive and is indispensible in directing the players’ actions towards the end goal (Malone 1980), as it does not merely focus on past and present performances but naturally assumes a high value disposition (Hounsell 2007) by adopting a feedforward nature (Carless 2007). Well-crafted online multiple choice questions (through the use of hints, additional information and correct answers) can have an accelerant effect on learning (Hounsell 2007) by providing instant feedback and thus act as a catalyst for further improvement in performance (Black et al 2003). First and foremost, GIOA promotes self- and peer-assessment as independent learning activities which encourage self-regulatory skills (Nicol 2007) and active participation (Bryan and Clegg 2006). They can host educational content but more importantly they can act as catalysts in promoting more complex competencies, such as applying skills, developing strategies, analysing information, evaluating situations, changing attitudes and creating knowledge (Whitton 2009). GIOA represents an attempt to extend and inherently shift online assessment towards a more active and critical dimension of learning by first and foremost providing a situated context for an authentic experience of assessment. However, more research is recommended in order to further reinforce the framework through more guiding principles and the design of appropriate methods of implementation. If another student is able to help you, he or she probably will, and if you are able to explain something to your classmates in need, you will not only help them out, you will reinforce your own knowledge about the subject. Educators have been de facto reluctant to adopt a constructivist stance towards assessment (Whitelock and Watt 2008) and are somewhat hesitant to comprehensively address the potential of online assessment (Robles and Braathen 2002, Russell et al 2006). A comprehensive definition of game-informed learning, based on a critical evaluation on the use of games in education, is proposed for the purpose of this review. As it will be argued in the next section, good games have the capacity to provide such environments and can thus act as catalysts for meaningful and productive learning (Carless 2007). Although Gee (2005) admittedly supports the use of games inside the classroom, he suggests that adherence to and application of these sound principles in educational environments could transform learning, independently of whether the game is used or not to deliver these principles. It also fits the purpose of this review as it seeks to extend the game-informed nature of learning particularly towards assessment. The strong relation between learning and assessment (Brown and Knight 1994) is also manifested in Biggs’ presage-process-product model of learning which postulates that although students have a natural predisposition to learning, they tend to alter their innate strategies according to the context in which teaching, learning and assessment occur (Biggs 1989).
It can also provide students and teachers with indispensible information about the learner’s progress (Bryan and Clegg 2006).
As such, a game-informed approach to assessment seeks to extend this constructivist stance to online assessment practices in an endeavour to enhance students’ engagement, motivation and learning.
This highly contrasts with certain assessment of learning practices which amongst other tend to be inauthentic and context independent (Birenbaum et al 2006). Both provide a situated learning and potentially assessment environment, where the learner is immersed (Gee 2007) in a back-story (Begg et al 2005) with an emergent narrative (Murray 1998) as the task unfolds through the choices and strategies adopted by the learner. As the player advances, the game has the ability to adapt to the current performance level and reward each player, regardless of the level of competency reached (Gee 2007).
Moreover, CATs can be designed to end when the learner reaches a particular level of proficiency and in the process generate learning resources, in the form of hints, targeted at the individual student (Bull and McKenna 2003). This helps the player to develop valuable communication and critical thinking skills, while effectively learning from others (Whitton 2009).
Students’ discontent with feedback mechanism varies from the timing to the frequency, consistency and the perceived usefulness and guidance obtained throughout (Hounsell 2007). All learners, very much as all players, need ongoing, timely and formative feedback (Gibbs and Simpson 2004-5, Shute 2008). In good games, players share their actions and decisions with the game-designers – they co-create the world and experiences through co-design (Gee 2004). Like players, learners become agents (Yorke 2005), as they are able to observe, judge and direct their own learning (Gibbs and Simpson 2004-5, Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick 2006). The definition of GIL presented in this review shifts the focus from the game towards the gameplay elements and principles of learning that make possible and enhance the development of the aforementioned competencies.
The framework recognises the need for a more personal and dynamic modality which adapts to the needs of the individual learners but at the same time valorises peer interaction and dialogue through a number of collaborative tools that enhance the participative dimension of assessment. Effective Practice with e-Assessment: An overview of technologies, policies and practice in further and higher education. A Briefing on Key Concepts: Formative and summative, criterion and norm-referenced assessment.


The Next Generation in Educational Engagement Journal of Interactive Media in Education (8). Learning and understanding: A study of differences in constructing meaning from a text (Gothenburgh, Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis). The influence of assessment method on students' learning approaches: Multiple choice question examination versus assignment essay.
The place of game-based learning in an age of austerity Electronic Journal of e-Learning 10(2): pp. There is always the option of posting your question within your classroom; most professors allot a space for this.
The powerful relationship between learning and assessment and the affordances provided by online environments are then discussed.
These built-in assessment tools are extremely relevant when assessing larger classes (Crisp 2007) as they provide individualised feedback which is immediate (Bloxham and Boyd 2007, Keppell et al 2006, Whitelock 2006), relevant (Bull and McKenna 2003, Crisp 2007, Hepplestone et al 2011) and of high quality (Russell et al 2006). This facilitates self-assessment and self-regulatory learning strategies, whilst delivering relevant information to students about their learning, aimed at closing the gap between the current and required performance (Nicol and Macfarlanea€?Dick 2006). Apart from encouraging collaboration, games also provide a context for peer-interaction and dialogue (Nicol and MacFarlane-Dick 2006, Rust 2007), while allowing for the emergence of affinity groups (Gee 2007) and communities of practice (Squire 2003).
This helps both learners and players to act on feedback (Carless 2007, Gibbs and Simpson 2004-5) and program the next actions (Gee 2004), while it allows for a greater degree of autonomy and responsibility. Moreover, players are normally able to generate and actively decode their own feedback while in the classroom, students are generally passive recipients (Black and Wiliam 2006) of teacher-driven feedback (Whitelock and Watt 2008). This insider role experienced by the players in good games (de Freitas 2006) enhances ownership and engaged involvement (Gee 2005).
As such, a game-informed approach to learning requires a complementary model of assessment that valorises and ultimately realises the constructivist potential of GIL. Timely and on-going formative feedback naturally assumes a pivotal role in the framework as it feeds forward into future assessment tasks, thus permitting and facilitating progression.
The value of feedback in improving collaborative writing assignments in an online learning environment. Transforming Professional Healthcare Narratives into Structured Game Informed Learning Activities.
The distribution and features of learning management systems in Australian universities and their role in student assessment, Proceedings of AusWeb04, Gold Coast, Australia. Applying the seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education: New directions for teaching and learning.
Online gaming as an educational tool in learning and training British Journal of Educational Technology 38(3): pp. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (New York, Palgrave Macmillan).
The use of online clinical 'quandaries' in professional training Learning Disability Practice 10(7): pp. Replaying history: engaging urban underserved students in learning world history through computer simulation games, Proceedings of the 6th international conference on Learning sciences, International Society of the Learning Sciences, California, pp.
Authentic assessment: What does it mean and how is it instantiated by a group of distance learning academics?
Investigating the capacity of self and peer assessment activities to engage students and promote learning European Journal of Engineering Education 35(4): pp. In the second part of the review, the conceptual basis for a game-informed online assessment framework is presented and the 5 guiding principles which embody the framework are individually explicated. This, however, can also be problematic as learners might conceive particular gameplay elements (such as scoring) as trivialising learning when not in a gaming context, while other elements like fantasy or competition might not be appealing to students (Whitton 2012).
This could potentially lead to an increase in students’ motivation (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick 2006) while effectively promoting timely self-reflection (Keppell et al 2006).
For instance, online virtual worlds like Second Life (de Freitas 2006) and commercial games like Civilization III (Squire and Barab 2004) can be used as a platform for authentic assessment activities, like role-play, as these allow learners to engage in a perceived-real world through different intrinsic fantasy elements (Malone 1980) by taking on a virtual identity (Gee 2007) or character role (de Freitas 2006).
In fact, self-regulating strategies (Butler and Winne 1995, Nicol and MacFarlane-Dick 2006, Nicol 2009) are essential for closing the loop in games, as much as in assessment (Sadler 1989).
However, this requires the students to have a clear picture of the required standards and targets (Black and Wiliam 2006, Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2012, Sadler 1989).
Proceedings of the 1982 conference on Human factors in computing systems table of contents, Gaithersburg, Maryland, pp. Formative assessment and selfa€?regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Assessment and collaboration in online learning Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 10(1): pp. As such, GIOA supports and encourages the use of student-generated assessment criteria (Nicol 2007), content (Bates et al 2012) and tasks (Boud and Falchikov 2006), where the learner is not only an insider but becomes an active creator and producer (de Freitas 2006). Proceedings of the 3rd ACM SIGSMALL symposium and the first SIGPC symposium on Small systems, Palo Alto, California, United States, pp.
Finally, specific online authoring tools also allow for better objectivity and consistency in marking exercises and thus increase administrative efficiency (Bull and McKenna 2003).
Successful attempts in student-authored assessment content, through the PeerWise online system, have already seen the learners create multiple-choice questions and answers (including explanations), which were later shared with peers (Bates et al 2012).
Student-generated content: Using PeerWise to enhance engagement and outcomes in introductory physics courses, AIP Conference Proceedings Omaha, Nebraska, pp.
The creative stance shown by the players and students in generating their own content, promotes deeper learning and improves theoretical understanding (Bates et al 2012), while encouraging metacognition and the development of higher order cognitive skills (de Freitas 2006).



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