Most of us working in the space of education know the importance of students being able to develop their self-reflection and critical analysis skills. I don’t really want to use this space to talk about that too much in depth as there is already a lot out there, but for those who are interested in the why’s, here’s some links for further reading about reflection:
And this is also the same with the likes of formative assessment. We know that students like and respond well to feedback that updates them over the course of their workings, rather than feedback purely at the end of their project/ module/ coursework, (where in my opinion it is almost useless at this point – *ask me sometime about the lecturer that asked me to design something and then at the very end of the module told me i had done it all wrong and should have done it in a specific manner – annoying AF*). Thankfully we are not evil here at CU and constantly use formative assessment to guide students and ask them to think critically about the whys and hows of their work whenever we can.
Well in the true spirit of our new mantra in the playful and gameful strand of DMLL,*Remix Play* (you can find the workshop here: Remix Play Workshop), I decided to have a look at how we could make the formative assessment and student self-reflection process a little more playful. Being a huge D&D fan the following happened…
So how do you combine D&D with student self-reflection you ask? Well here’s my initial concept:
If you’re looking at that picture thinking huh? Then here is an outline of my concept in a more readable version in a step by step process that was envisioned.
Step 1 – Journals
Physical Journals will be given to each student in Week 1 of module (this can be upgraded to an online version after trial). Specially customised D&D character sheets sit in the front page of the journal.
Journals will provide a chance for ongoing reflection and can be used as evidence (by the student) to support their final assessment. Lecturers can also use these as an opportunity to provide written feedback and assess progress on a weekly basis if needed.
Step 2 – Roll Character Attributes
Students are asked to roll dice (just like D&D) and come up with a series of stats for their character ‘themselves’ attributes. Students are asked to reflect on their current strengths and weaknesses and assign their dice stats to each attribute.
Attributes in the D&D world are equal to Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, Charisma, Intelligence and Constitution. In this version, these attributes are assigned a real world context into the following: Motivation, Multi-Disciplinary Working, Creativity, Collaboration, Subject Knowledge and Mental/Physical Wellbeing.
Example: A student rolls the following stats: 12, 8, 14, 18, 10 & 11. After reflection they put their 18 into creativity believing that, that is where their strength lies and the 8 into collaboration believing that they are not very good or have had little practice at working in a team.
This process should highlight where they may need to improve and give some thoughts for the next step.
Step 3 – Define Epic Quest and Outline Attributes to Work Towards
Students will be asked to think about why they chose the module and what is the main thing they wish to achieve at the end of it ie. ‘Epic Quest’. They will also be asked to identify two attributes that they wish to work on improving during their time on the module.
The completion of the ‘Epic Quest’ can form part of the final reflection task at the end of the module and should be done with the Dungeon Masters (Lecturers). Students should be encouraged to convince the DMs that they have succeeded in their quests, using their journals as evidence.
Step 4 – The Adventuring Party
No D&D adventure is complete without the adventuring party. In order to make sure we have balanced teams. Students are asked to stand in groups based on their highest attribute score. This should (hopefully) give a mixture of groups. DMs will then assign students into teams of four, combining students from differing groups to achieve a balance where possible. This will hopefully allow students to work in a more inter/multi-disciplinary nature.
Step 5 – Team Composition
Now each team has hopefully four members in each, its time to let the students decide their individual roles. Students are asked to decide between themselves which role that they would like to take on.
Tank – This student is responsible for overseeing the projects final concept/product. They bring together the ideas and are a spokesperson for the idea. Think Product Lead.
Healer – This student is responsible for overseeing the team (think HR). They must manage the people and personal element of the team. This could be anything from moderating arguments to supporting a team mates physical/mental wellbeing. Think Team Lead.
Close Combat Support – This student is responsible for overseeing the execution and technical delivery of the concept/product. They ensure the team has a tangible concept/product to show at the end of the module.
Ranged Support – This student is responsible for overseeing the research and creative thinking element of the concept/product.
Whilst the team is split into four areas, teams will be encouraged to engage with all aspects of the modules project (research/execution etc.) but those members assigned a particular role should have a greater level of input when it comes to that particular area.
Step 6 – The Team Health Bar
Each team has a collective health bar. It is a visual representation of the teams performance in class and how they are working as a team. Parameters can be set for decreasing and increasing health.
Example: A student doesn’t come to class and has given no prior notification of intended absence – the teams health suffers -10. A student presents some research to the class that is a direct benefit to the their team +10 to their overall health.
Team health can be topped up by coming a tutorial with a DM. When team health is low or failing, a team must attend a mandatory tutorial to heal. Teams that fall in the top tier of the health bar can be considered for extra credits/ whatever reward that can be applied to show that they have worked well as a team.
Step 7 – Weekly Self-Reflection
Each week, students will be asked after each core session to choose and reflect on each of the following:
Students will be asked to identify at least one problem concerned with the ongoing module work (this could be a personal development, team or project related problem) and they must pose a solution in order to defeat said monster.
Example: A students team has a problem with deciding on a particular issue to address with their project. Their monster is the ‘sludge of indecision’. The student then suggests that in order to overcome this monster, the team must meet on another day and make a firm decision on which issue they are going to concentrate on.
Students will be asked to identify at least one person/ type of person/ company/ Contact that may be useful to help their research and development of their final concept/product.
Example: A team proposes targeting a solution for raising awareness in student mental health. Each member of the team proposes a contact to talk to for research purposes, this could be for example a staff member from the Wellness Centre.
Students will be asked to identify at least one resource that they may need to help the research, design and/or development of their concept/ product. Students will also be asked to identify how they will go about obtaining the resource.
Example: A student identifies that for their board game concept, the team would like some physical pieces for their prototype. The student then suggests they look at the 3D printing resources available at the University.
Journal & Epic Quest Reflection
Students will update their journal each week with the above sections, but also a section after that, that comments on their reflections of their personal progress in class and with an emphasis on how they are moving forward in pursuit of their Epic Quest and how they are working on approving their chosen and/or other attributes.
DMs can feedback in these journals and offer guidance and maybe a bit of story (if creative enough) on each students journey. They can also award skill points that can be spent in the Feat Tree (see below) and/ or offer suggestions in other ways providing formative feedback each week.
Step 8 – The Feat Tree
Each different attribute will have a series of ‘Feats’ attached to it.
Example: The Attribute ‘Motivation’ may have the following Feats – self-motivation, team motivation, self-identity, meaningfulness, needs etc.
Students can expand into each of these attributes by acquiring Feats in the specific attribute section. Every two attribute specific Feats gained = 1 attribute point (in the Feat gained attribute).
Example: If a student wanted to improve their Motivation attribute score of 8, they would try to attain some of the Feats in the Motivation Tree section. Gaining two Feats attached to the Motivation Tree would give them an Attribute point in Motivation, thus raising their overall score to 9.
DMs can award skill points when they see fit. Alternatively a student can ask for a skill point but must justify why they should be awarded one, reflecting on their progress and recent contributions to their team and general progress in class.
Step 9 – Compare and Reflect with a Spider Graph
At the end of the module, students should hopefully have different attribute scores to when they started (again hopefully improved scores). Using a Spider graph (thanks Alex for this insight), students can see where they were when they started the module compared to where they are at the end of the module. The use of a Spider graph gives great instant visual feedback to a student and can be used as an aid for self-reflection and how they developed skills over the course of the module.
And there we have it. A system loosely based on some of the D&D systems but for aiding student self-reflection and a formative assessment process. At the moment this is just an idea but we plan on trialling this with our new Add-vantage module January cohort with some ‘proper’ research attached. If people would like to discuss this, Id love feedback and always happy to work with others to make this process better.
Finally just want to mention my colleague… the lovely Lauren Heywood, who helped to direct and design my ramblings of D&D into something productive.