The Gamification of Learning: Exploring the XP Grading System

Last week, a classmate of mine published a post here on our class blog about her thoughts on the XP Grading System. I really liked Jordan’s post and the points she raised about this system of grading — both positive and negative.

In this post, I want to further explore the nuances of the XP Grading System, share the ways other educators are utilizing it to both empower their students, and offer my own thoughts on this unconventional system.

The XP Grading System itself relates to the concept of ‘gamification.’ Merriam-Webster offers a definition of this term on their website:

“The process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation”

So, when we’re talking about gamification in education, we’re really talking about educators taking the initiative to integrate gamelike elements to the way their classrooms are run. In the case of our class, The Politics of Reading, Professor Hall has gamified her grading system. If you are unfamiliar with the XP Grading System, this pretty much means that every assignment to be done is attributed to a certain number of XP, or experience points. From the beginning of the semester, my classmates and I understood how XP translated into a final course grade. Since we knew how many points each assignment is worth and also how many points we need to accumulate to get the grade we want (i.e. an A or a B) we had the responsibility and freedom of ensuring that we met our goals. With that being said, students are essentially assigned a “0” at the start of the semester and are responsible for accumulating the points necessary for the grade of interest. A post published on the blog Teched Up Teacher offers great insight as to why this change in grading is important:

“…xp grading system is great because it allows you to start students with a zero. I never understood why we start students with a hundred and tell them all they have to do is keep it. We know that’s not possible; all they can do in that system is fail. We shouldn’t be starting students at the top, leaving them to watch their grade slide toward a zero. We should have students leveling up, like in video games. That way they can see their progress not only during the marking period, but for the entire year. All they can do is succeed! It makes the classroom and your quests something positive instead of something negative.”

Another component of this XP Grading System is a class leaderboard. In my class, Professor Hall allowed each of us to come up with a pseudonym/username by which we could be identified. Every week, Professor Hall updated our class leaderboard according to how many XP we had. Teched Up Teacher shows what a leaderboard could look like:

As you can see, a classroom leaderboard is nearly identical to the leaderboard you may see once you complete an online game:

I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed XP Grading System. As a student, this system allows me to see assignments as an opportunity to succeed rather than an opportunity to fail. As the current conventional grading system stands, students are given a 100 in the course at the beginning automatically and have nowhere to go but down. With the XP Grading System, on the other hand, students are given a 0 in the course at the beginning automatically and have nowhere to go but up.

In the future, I hope more educators will utilize this unconventional grading system in their own classrooms.



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