Student and Professor Collaborate to Develop Game for Student Engagement

Parise and ColeStudent-faculty collaboration presents an excellent learning opportunity for students in any field of study.

One of those collaborative projects recently came out of the psychology department in the form of an exploratory study using Internet game concepts to encourage class participation in an undergraduate college course.

PsychWorld, an interactive game based on the popular Facebook game Farmville, was developed by Dr. Dick Cole, professor of psychology, and psychology student Jamie Parise ’12 of Orland Park, Illinois. The game was used in one section of Cole’s Introduction to Psychology last fall, and Cole and Parise presented the project and their findings at the Midwest Psychological Association’s annual convention in May.

“Faculty-student collaborative research is one of the most rewarding experiences one can have as a teacher,” said Cole. “You get to know your students while you experience working together on interesting ideas that help contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of psychology.”

As with Farmville, which simulates the basic business tasks of operating a farm, PsychWorld requires students to perform certain “jobs” that encourage student engagement in the course and earn students “psychodollars.” These can then be “spent” at the virtual Intro Store for extra points toward the final grade.

The purpose of the study was to use simulation game strategies modeled in a classroom situation to explore whether simulation game strategies would encourage increased participation in reading the assignments, attending the class, and contributing to class discussions.

Although no statistically significant difference was found for attendance and class involvement, a statistically significant difference was found for reading assignments.

Students responded that the game helped them overall to be more “attentive” and “involved” in class.