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Gamification in Calculus Course

Teacher: Dr Jeff Chak Fu Wong

Department: Department of Mathematics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)


Building up an effective triadic interaction among teachers, peers and students in an online environment has long been a challenging task. In view of this, Dr. Jeff Chak Fu Wong, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Mathematics from CUHK, has developed an eLearning platform for Calculus courses. In the platform, he has implemented several strategies including gamification of learning, reciprocal peer-tutoring and the initiation-response-follow-up (IRFo) pattern. In addition to teaching the Calculus concept, Dr. Wong aims to instil the mindset of the mathematical thinking process into his students through the interactive courseware design.

In the platform, students first need to decide whether to cooperate or compete with their peers. Moreover, a variety of mini games were designed to attract students’ attention. Dr. Wong intended to provide students with self and peer-learning experiences using role-swapping activities. Students would mark their opponent’s answers and take on the role of teacher. After that, they needed to decide whether to accept the suggestions from their classmates or not. This activity provided students with an opportunity to think twice before answering questions. Lastly, the platform would give the correct answer and guide students to redo the incorrect problem, but most importantly ask follow-up questions to check students’ understanding.

Figure 1: Demonstration of the peer-learning session

Throughout the initiative, Dr. Wong observed that gamification is an effective way to keep students engaged. “They not only enjoy playing games but also desire to learn the strategies behind and how to apply the mathematical concepts to daily life,” said Dr. Wong. On the other hand, he has also encountered several challenges. For instance, Dr. Wong couldn’t develop the courseware for all the Calculus chapters in one sitting due to limitations of time. Additionally, it is difficult to introduce the mathematical thinking process to non-mathematics major students who only take one Calculus course.

In general, students enjoyed the implementation of game-based elements in Calculus courses. Some students reflected that they would prefer to have a video user guide. Thus, Dr. Wong decided to upload a video demonstration to YouTube. When asked about the plan for further development of the courseware, Dr. Wong said he is eager to utilize different game elements in his teaching. Moreover, he hopes to guide students to access the platform in face-to-face classes to collect instant feedback.


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