Hear from the Expert Dr. Huiyu Zhang on Game-based Learning

By IGI Global on Oct 6, 2022
Introduction from Dr. Glick
Dr. Danny Glick The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-forwarded global education thinking on how to reimagine and transform education in a changing world. In response to the ongoing shift to alternative teaching methods, I have been conducting a series of interviews with leading industry experts, research scientists, and university professors, where we discuss research-based principles, emerging trends and initiatives for driving student engagement and success in the post-COVID era.
It is our hope that this interview series will be an important step towards helping the education community navigate successfully the “new normal.”
Today I am delighted to be speaking with Dr. Huiyu Zhang, a Senior Academic Mentor at Temasek Polytechnic (TP), Singapore. Her research interests include gamification, learning analytics, and AI in education. She is the recipient of the 2018 TP Teaching Excellence Award.
The Interview Featuring Dr. Zhang
Dr. Huiyu Zhang

DR. GLICK: Good morning, Huiyu. Gamification, or game-based learning, is one of the most effective and engaging ways to help learners learn skills and apply them in virtual environments. Game elements used in game-based learning environments target the intrinsic motivations of individual learners such as winning, competing and being rewarded, which is why they are so effective in ensuring that the information being provided is absorbed and retained. However, creating engaging game-based learning experiences isn’t a walk-in-the-park, especially if you don’t have design experts on your team.

I’d like to start with your thoughts about design principles of digital gaming for education. What are the game-based learning golden rules that instructional designer should follow to achieve maximum results?

DR. ZHANG: Thank you very much for inviting me. I believe that rule number one has to be making the experience meaningful for the learners. Jonassen et al. (2008, p.2) highlighted that “In order for students to learn meaningfully, they must be willfully engaged in a meaningful task. In order for meaningful learning to occur, that task that students pursue should engage active, constructive, intentional, authentic, and cooperative activities.” Gamified learning should be no different. There must be careful alignment between the learning outcomes and the gamified learning task. Take for example, if the learning outcome is for the learners to describe the major hormones secreted by the endocrine gland, their target tissues and responses of these tissues, then designing the learning task into a gamified quiz, say ‘A Day as a Medical Intern’ where the learners are to assist an intern to perform a clinical triage of the patients presenting different medical conditions is meaningful and authentic.
The other important rule to bear in mind is provide a good mixture of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic motivation comes from the gamified learning being enjoyable and fun for the learners to participate in, and by engaging in this gamified learning provide a sense of achievement. Mandatory fun is no fun (Hanus & Fox, 2015). To entice our learners into the ‘fun’, the gamification context must be relevant and attractive to them. It would increase the engagement level if the popular game genres such as role-playing and adventure, or elements from trending games are infused into the gamified learning task.

Last but not least, gamification is not equivalent to serious game. Instructional designers or tutors do not have to include all game mechanics in the gamified learning. Adopt what is necessary to deliver the learning outcomes, for example, in a more sophisticated learning task that comprises of several phases, having badges as a form of reward mechanism and also serve as signposting to allow learners to track their progress may be more important than a leaderboard that promotes recognition as a skillful learner (player).

Early Warning Systems and Targeted Interventions for Student Success in Online Courses
Profs. Danny Glick (University of California, Irvine, USA) et al.
©2020 | 374 pgs. | EISBN: 9781799850755
  • Offering the Latest Research Findings from 40+ Scholars Hailing
    from 25 Institutions in Seven (7) Countries
  • Suitable for Policymakers, Administrators, Instructional
    Designers, & More
  • Covers Topics such as Early Warning System, Game-Based
    Learning, & Online Learning Engagement
  • Features 15 Chapters on the Latest, Peer-Reviewed Research
Quick Links
Bibliographic Information
Pricing & Purchase Options
Table of Contents
Recommend to Library
Access Full Text

DR. GLICK: Biostatistics is a second-year subject taken by Biomedical Engineering students at Temasek Polytechnic. Despite the apparent importance of statistics to the health sciences, it remains a challenge to teach (e.g., Bush, Daddysman, & Charnigo, 2014). Therefore, identifying alternative instructional models that actively engage and encourage students to practice and further develop quantitative thinking skills could be an important step towards advancing student development of core statistical competencies. To address this challenge, TP has designed a game-based biostatistics course based on the classic animated characters found in Pokémon GO.

Can you talk a little about the instructional design principles that were incorporated into Biostatistics GO?

DR. ZHANG: When we gamified our course, we were careful not to overwhelm our learners with too many game elements. We chose to only include in our lesson design: goal-focused activities, reward mechanisms in terms of award badges, and progress tracking using a leaderboard
We mapped our learning tasks into goal-focused activities containing game levels. Each game level has different stages, with five stages at most for the level. Each levelling-up would lead to a new increased learning challenge, striking a balance between possible fatigue and sustained engagement. We were also aware that as per all online activities, providing the access initiation is key to lower the usage barrier, encourage participation and sustain motivation. Marrying both access initiation and gamification of the structured lesson design approach- introduction (Clarke, 2007), we devised a ‘Briefing Room’ activity to get the learners ‘retrieve their mission’, which allowed them to be clear of the learning objectives, how to begin the ‘game’, and win the ‘game’ (assessment specification, desired deliverable outcomes, and timelines).

Each time a goal-focused activity had been completed, the students would be presented with a flag to indicate they had ‘leveled-up’, and a badge that indicated a particular level of performance achievement. So, you would be wondering where did the Pokémon GO classic animated characters come into play? One of the badges that the learners earned was awarded by their peer when the peer critiqued their work. This badge comes in the form of either one of three Pokémon to indicate the quality of work: Dratini (More work needed), Dragonair (Almost there) or Dragonite (Great to go), to preserve the essence of evolution in Pokémon GO. These badges served as signposts that allowed the learners to self-monitor, keep tabs on their work and identify the gaps to be bridged. Displaying their badges in a leaderboard generated competition and provided the extrinsic motivation.

DR. GLICK: What about evidence of effectiveness?

What are the effects of Biostatistics GO on student motivation and academic achievement?

DR. ZHANG: The learners were overall engaged and motivated by these gamification elements. They found them enjoyable, and perceived the learning requirements much simpler, understandable, and appealing. The use of Pokémon characters symbolizing the quality of the work produced was also a positive move to motivate them, particularly garnering the powerful ‘Dragnonite’ or ‘Dragonair’ was an achievement status. With the ‘Level’s in place, the way the learning was unfolded and the use of badges and leaderboard, the students were able to dissect what were required and work towards the goals. These designs made them more cognizant of their proficiencies, the causes and helped them to further improve on their work.

DR. GLICK: Sounds very promising. The ability to manage one’s own behavior is recognized to be an important factor in human development generally and in academic success more specifically (Dent & Koenka, 2016; Zimmerman, 2002). Learning in online settings may pose additional challenges to student motivation to learn and require them to exercise self-discipline in their learning behaviors to a greater degree that in face-to-face learning settings. As such, self-regulation is a concept that is of prime importance in education and may be worthy of extra attention in online learning settings (Johnson et al., 2022).

You have thought and written a lot about AI chatbots to support SRL in online settings. Can you talk a little about the use of AI chatbots, and why they are so important?

DR. ZHANG: AI chatbots have been adopted by the educational community to support academic and learning purposes as they are available 24/7 to provide quick responses to learner’s questions, engage learners with interactive and affective conversations with emojis, rich media and prompt questions. They can also reach out to larger number of users at the same time. In Temasek Polytechnic, expedited by the need for blended to fully online lessons in the times of COVID-19 pandemic, AI chatbots developed with different platforms have been used in the following ways: as a navigating assistant to provide administrative information to visitors and students (AskTP); as a teaching assistant to deliver course content and allow learners contribute collaboratively to a body of knowledge (QBot); as a coach to help learners manage stress, build resilience and receive mental wellness (Wysa); as a personalized learning assistant to help learners identify and correct errors made in an assessment such as assignment or project, or support the independent learning of a software (TPEBot).
Self-regulation plays an important role in online learning. Features offered by the AI chatbot seemed to be able to support learners in this. For example, for AI chatbots deployed using the TPEBot platform, a curated learning menu that contains relevant learning topics or learning support, and a list of frequently asked questions will be provided to the learners. “Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.” Using chatbots in the educational setting require a set of instructional designs to address diversity in the classroom, particularly for adult learners.

Learners who are not strong in their language skills to craft their questions will not benefit from conventional chatbots to have their questions understood and provide relevant answers. Using the curated learning menu, learners could now first plan what they would want to achieve, set goals and deadlines before performing the learning. They could then interact with the AI chatbot to complete their learning task. Upon evaluation of their learning task by the tutor, the chatbot will provide a ‘report card’, supporting the learners to monitor what aspects they were lacking, and be recommended with relevant topics in the learning menu to focus on for improvement. The AI chatbot would have succeeded in supporting SRL once the learners are aware of the learning gaps to bridge and understood if the quality of work has been met, and able to better take on the next learning task using the chatbot.

Apart from SRL, AI chatbots also have the ability to be integrated with an instant messaging service. For those messaging services that already come with social tagging, such as Telegram, having the AI chatbot into the chatgroups addresses the issue of isolation in learning, again a common issue that can arise from fully online courses. Social and collaborative learning can be promoted when questions posted to the chatbot can also be answered by any other learners in the chatgroup, sharing multiple perspectives to broaden and deepen the learning.

To effectively meet the learning needs of our learners, instructors like us should practice reflective teaching to be conscious of any assumptions, debunk underlying misbeliefs, and know any delivery gaps to bridge. Using data such as chatbot logs is one of the objective ways for the instructors to generate learning analytics and make informed actions. We could obtain the usage seasonality to understand learners study habits in general, or to nudge and encourage during lough periods, or even filter by class to understand group dynamics, to apply specific classroom management techniques if applicable such as in-class group activity that can be completed with the use of the chatbot to guide them in learning with chatbots the right way.

DR. GLICK: Thank you so much for sharing your insights Huiyu, and for all these practical observations.

Works Cited
Antares Solutions. (n.d). Help Students Reach Their Full Potential With QBot. https://antares.solutions/qbot/
Clark, R.C. (2007). Developing Technical Training: A Structured Approach for Developing Classroom and Computer-based Instructional Materials (3rd ed.). CA: O'Reilly Media.
Hanus, M. D., Fox, J. (2015). Assessing the effects of gamification in the classroom: A longitudinal study on intrinsic motivation, social comparison, satisfaction, effort, and academic performance. Computers & Education 80, 152-161.
Jonassen, D. H., Howland, J., Marra, R. M., Crismond, D. (2008). Meaningful learning with technology (3rd ed.). NJ: Pearson Education.
Smruthi, H. (2020, Sep). Chatbot to Help Poly Students Deal with Covid Stress. The Newspaper. https://tnp.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/chatbot-help-poly-students-deal-covid-stress
Temasek Polytechnic. (n.d). Annual Report 2020/21. https://www.tp.edu.sg/content/dam/tp-web/microsites/annual-reports/2020_21/highlights.html
Temasek Polytechnic. (n.d.). TP Personalised Educational Chatbot (TPEBot). https://tpedubot.web.app/


For more information regarding this research and to review Dr. Glick’s research, view the IGI Global publication, Early Warning Systems and Targeted Interventions for Student Success in Online Courses.

Available in print and electronic format, it is available at a 40% discount* when you utilize the coupon code GLICK40 through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore. Additionally, this publication is available across preferred providers such as GOBI Library Solutions, EBSCOHost, Oasis, and Ebook Central (discounts may vary), as well as IGI Global’s e-Book Collection (6,000+ e-books) database.

Visit the publication’s webpage to order, or contact Customer Service at cust@igi-global.com or 717-533-8845 ext. 100 with questions. For researchers, be sure to recommend this publication or the e-Book Collection to your library to have access to this critical content.

About Dr. Danny Glick

Dr. Danny Glick is a Research Affiliate at the University of California, Irvine’s Online Learning Research Center, where he develops methods to facilitate student success, retention, and graduation rate in online courses, using early warning systems and targeted interventions. He is a former visiting scholar at the University of California, Irvine’s School of Education where he examined the effects of technology-mediated instructional strategies on the academic achievement of historically underrepresented students. Dr. Glick is also the Academic Director of Edge - Center for EdTech Research and Innovation, where together with colleagues, grad students and interns, he works on a range of EdTech research projects related to AI-powered video-bots, actionable dashboards, and adaptive learning algorithms. He is currently designing holistic data-driven early warning systems, which incorporate four domains – cognitive, affective, behavioral and financial – to identify and support students who show dropout warning signs. Dr. Glick is also the Director of Pedagogical Implementation at Edusoft, a subsidiary of ETS, where he leads a team of EdTech implementation specialists, specializing in designing, implementing and evaluating technology-enhanced learning and assessment solutions, serving K-20 institutions in over 30 countries worldwide. Dr. Glick is author and editor of a wide range of publications, including, most recently, “Early Warning Systems and Targeted Interventions for Student Success in Online Courses”, “Predicting Success, Preventing Failure”, and “Supporting Self-Regulated Learning and Student Success in Online Courses” (forthcoming).

For your reference, find below a sample of related titles, which are also featured in IGI Global’s e-Book Collection and are available for purchase in print and electronic format. Be sure to recommend these titles to your librarian, to ensure your institution can acquire the most emerging research.


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
About IGI Global

Founded in 1988, IGI Global, a medium-sized international academic publisher, is committed to producing the highest quality research (as an active full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics “COPE”) and ensuring the timely dissemination of innovative research findings through an expeditious and technologically advanced publishing process. Through their commitment to supporting the research community ahead of profitability, and taking a chance on virtually untapped topic coverage, IGI Global has been able to collaborate with over 150,000+ researchers from some of the most prominent research institutions around the world to publish the most emerging, peer-reviewed research across 350+ topics in 11 subject areas including business, computer science, education, engineering, social sciences, and more. Learn More About IGI Global >

Newsroom Contact
Emma Baronak
(717) 533-8845 ext. 183

Browse for more posts in:
Author NewsEducationBooks & E-Books

No comments Comments

Log in or sign up to comment.
Be the first to comment!

More from IGI Global

IGI Global, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Extended Campus, has published their second Platinum Open Access (OA) reference book.
IGI GlobalRead More
Open Access
SANLiC member libraries can work through the consortium to acquire IGI Global e-Collections at discounted rates.
IGI GlobalRead More
Resources for LibrariansLibrary Collaboration
EPIC member libraries can work through the consortium to acquire IGI Global e-Collections at discounted rates.
IGI GlobalRead More
Resources for LibrariansLibrary Collaboration
Authors who previously published their work under the traditional publishing model (standard access) can consider converting their work to open access under IGI Global's Retrospective Open Access Program.
IGI GlobalRead More
Author NewsOpen Access
Taking on the title of Editor-in-Chief (EiC) is no easy task. There is a lot of responsibility and time that goes into this position. We reached out to Dr. Brij Gupta to hear his thoughts and work ethic when it comes to supporting three different journals within IGI Global.
Emily LeisterRead More
NewsletterInterviewReviews & Indexing
What are the real-life impacts of the deep web, and what can be done to prevent cybercrime?
IGI GlobalRead More
IGI Global is continuing to advocate for open science and research – both through its commitment to publishing quality open access materials and now also serving as the founding member of the Association of Global Open Science and Research (AGOSR).
IGI GlobalRead More
Resources for LibrariansResources for ResearchersOpen Access
Prof. Adekunle Theophilius Tinuoye weighs in on the current climate of school violence as a societal issue.
IGI GlobalRead More
Social Sciences and Humanities
There is a growing issue in the research community of authors submitting their articles to gold OA journals (and even hybrid OA/subscription-based journals), and then withdrawing their article after it has been accepted to the journal, effectively utilizing all of the resources of that journal, including the peer review, only to then refuse to publish at the end of the process.
Erin WatsonRead More
NewsletterAuthor NewsOpen Access
First Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  ... Next Last