Core Fellow Travis Stevens recently received an Innovation Proposal Grant for his "Gamifying the Journey" project. When asked for a brief synopsis of the project, Travis says, "The idea was to find a way to engage students in learning more deeply, by making use of supplemental materials, completing their reading assignments with a higher degree of retention and comprehension, and engaging meaningfully in class discussions and written assignments. To achieve these goals, I will be 'gamifying' one section of Journey of Transformation next year. Gamification uses elements of games, such as rules, challenges, rewards, levels, etc. into learning environments to motivate learners." The idea is enliven the class by adding a system of rewards, similar to those used in recreational games, such as badges, etc., so students will be motivated to delve more deeply into the texts. Travis explains, "The idea here is to increase motivation for learning by taking advantage of something most of us like to do anyway: namely, play games."
Why Journey as the setting for the project? Though only in his first year at Seton Hall, Travis understands that there can be some resistance to taking a required course, like Journey, though he is pleased to note that most students come to enjoy it over the course of the semester. Still, he was interested in making the course even more rewarding and exciting. He was also inspired by Ed Jones of the English Department, who has been using the Interpretation Game he created for his first year English classes (for similar reasons) for years; see Edmund Jones, "The Rules of the Game in an Introductory Literature Class," Teaching English in the Two-Year College 35, No. 3 (March 2008): 282-292. The game is intended to get past any resistance students might feel about taking a course that is not directly related to their major.
Another reason for the project is Travis' goal of reaching out to students with varied learning styles. He says, "I'm passionate about finding ways to run a classroom that don't just reward extroverts, but allow people a variety of ways to engage." Not everyone is willing or able to be the first to raise a hand to answer the teacher's question. A quiet but otherwise engaged student might be more comfortable answering a question online and earning a participation "badge" than he or she might be speaking out in a traditional classroom setting. Travis hopes other faculty may be inspired to use his "Gamifying the Journey" in the future. Working with Liz Welch and Cassie Scannella from TLTC over the summer, he will pilot the gamified Journey of Transformation section in the fall, and Travis, Liz, and Cassie will present their findings to other interested faculty in the spring. In fact, the project may impact classes well beyond those in the Core.
Travis began teaching in the Core in September of 2018, but he is already an integral part of our Core family. When asked about how he feels about his work here, Travis says, "I love so much about teaching in the Core – I love the wide variety of texts and genres I get to teach. I love surprising students with elements of the Catholic tradition they never knew existed. And I love engaging students on issues that matter: race, inequality, love, justice, freedom—it's all in these texts that we get to read and discuss." We, in the Core, are excited to have someone with Travis' enthusiasm and creativity teaching for us as well.