The Assessment Game: A Discussion of Gamification

We have all taken countless tests measuring our aptitude, knowledge, and personality. Traditionally, the assessments used in work, school, and training programs have a paper-and-pencil format. With technology changing many aspects of our daily lives, assessments are evolving from the influences of gamification.

Gamification is the application of game-like activities in realistic applications to increase user motivation and engagement. The usage of this performance-based assessment has increased due to its ability to be more interactive and entertaining while still capturing a realistic assessment of the user.  There are various applications that currently use gamification to enhance assessment. Below are a few environments that have been using game-like tools for assessment.

E-Learning:

Online education programs are common in both grade school and higher education. Many times it is difficult to engage the learners through the online portal. Landers and Callan (2011) observed learner motivation and reactions with gamification for a semester-long course. Results reported students answered more questions than was required due to the students perceiving the activity to be entertaining and rewarding.

Employment Selection:

Simulations and game-based work samples have found to be strong predictors of performance as well as less vulnerable to social desirability and applicant faking (Boyce, Corbet, & Adler, 2013). Some companies such as Knack and Pymetrics have developed performance-based assessments to build a characteristic profile used for selection purposes.

Employee Training:

Employee training is an expensive, yet vital investment for organizations. Desjardins, a Canadian credit union, reported a savings larger than 50% for training costs after implementing Curatr, a widely used gamification system (Betts, 2013).  

Some concerns need to be raised before you decide to change your current traditional assessments into more game-like activities. Age-related adverse impact is a major concern when introducing a new technology to the assessment environment. An assessment tool should only measure differences in job-related performance, not differences in human characteristics (e.g. age). False feedback to the user is another concern that could arise with gamification. When users reach harder levels or earn a new high score they will perceive themselves as being a top performer in the assessment. Feedback of excelling in the assessment could give the user false hope about them receiving a job offer or a passing grade. Keeping the outcome of the game aligned with the results in reality would reduce this sense of false feedback. Additional research and pilot testing should be conducted prior to initiating a gaming selection tool.

Have you used gamification in your workplace or school testing? What were your reactions to the activity?

Works Cited:

Betts, B. (2013). Changing the model of workplace e-learning: A platform to facilitate autonomous social e-learning for adult learners (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Google Scholar.

Boyce, A.S., Corbet, C.E., Adler, S. (2013). Simulations in the selection context: Considerations, challengers, and opportunities. In Fetzer, M. & Tuzinski, K (Eds.), Simulations for personnel selection (17-41). New York: Springer Science Business Media.

Landers, R.N. & Callan, R.C. (2011). Casual social games as serious games: The psychology of gamification in undergraduate education and employee training. In M. Ma et al. (Eds.), Serious games and edutainment applications (399-423). London: Springer-Verlag London Limited.

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Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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