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# Getting Started

We are building tools into GradeCraft to help instructors navigate the process of creating a gameful course. Until those tools are available, we have documented our process for creating gameful courses here. This guide focuses on describing the steps to build student choice, or make your course autonomy-supportive. We’re working to make this as streamlined as possible, but are aware that it involves thinking through both detailed logistics, and your own personal philosophy around grading and assessment structures. We estimate that it takes 3-4 hours to work through the structure of a single class, and longer than that to create the necessary support materials.

- Identify the learning objectives for your course. Are you interested in learning more about what makes for good learning objectives? Start here.
- List the types of assignments and activities that will be included in your course assessment scheme: (For example, here’s a list of all of the assignments available in an introductory learning sciences course and in an introductory political theory course.)
- Videogames and Learning
- Class Attendance
- Reading Quizzes
- Blogging
- Learning Game Reviews
- Learning from Playing a Game
- Boss Battles
- Grading System Quiz
- Team Competition

- Intro to Political Science
- Attendance
- Readings
- Discussions
- Blogging
- Boss Battles
- Group Project
- Conventional Academic Essays
- Scribing

- Are there any additional types of assignments that students can do that allow students to engage with course content in additional ways? For instance, if you’ve used longform essays in the past, you might consider shorter writing assignments that span different media (blog posts, literature reviews, skits), or enable students to consider different audiences (discussion forum posts vs. journaling). Add these new assignment types to your list. Here is a list of assessment types you might consider:
- Writing Assignments
- Research Paper
- Editorial
- Creative Essay
- Journal/Diary
- Blogging
- Reading Summaries or Critiques
- Literature Review
- Test-based Assessments
- Quizzes
- Exams
- Trivia Games
- Readiness Assurance Assessments

- Problem Set
- Lab
- Poster
- Discussion Forum
- Project
- Presentation & Argumentation Assignments
- Posters
- Debates
- Creative Assignments
- Play/Skit
- Video
- Song
- Game
- Website

- In gameful courses, students earn up, starting from zero and building towards course mastery. What order of of magnitude (for example, 100, 10,000, or 1,000,000?) would you like your point scale to be on? What you’re deciding here is approximately how many points a student would need to earn in order to get an A in your course. It’s okay if you don’t have an exact number, and you can change the scale in the future if you decide it isn’t right - but you need a number to work around. Need some inspiration? Consider three grading schemes below:
- Match level names to hierarchies that are relevant to your course content - students learn while they level up
- Create a leveling system that helps students see themselves make progress long before they have earned a full letter grade
- Some professors increase the number of points between levels the farther up the point scale, making the ‘game’ feel progressively harder as the student builds mastery
- Points can stay similar to a traditional grading style you’re comfortable with, and students are still able to experience benefits of 'earning up'

- For the assignments that you’ve used previously in traditional courses, how have they been weighted out of 100%? Are you happy with how that weighting worked? If so, use that to calculate how many points the assignments would be worth in the new point scale (i.e., if you’ve set an A at 80,000 points, and the assignment was worth 10%, then the assignment is now worth 8,000 points). If not, adjust the relative weight, and then calculate the point totals.
- For assignments that are new to your course, you’ll need to determine how many points they will be worth. Consider the following: are they formative or summative assessments (formative work is generally intended to monitor students’ learning on a topic like reading quizzes or short blog posts, while summative is intended to evaluate students’ learning on a whole unit of content)? Typically, summative assessments are worth more points in an assessment scheme because students are expected to do a variety of work to learn the materials in preparation for them. But there are moments where we explicitly incentivize formative assessments that we really want students to engage in by making them worth a higher number of points (for instance making reading quizzes valuable in order to get students to do the reading), or moments where we devalue more summative assignments to make them less high stakes. Other things to consider are how frequently this assignment will occur (weekly assignments are probably worth fewer points than ones that occur only once), and how much work you expect students to put into the task. Look at how points are distributed between formative and summative assignments in these example classes for more inspiration:
- Sum up all of the points for the assignments you’ve listed - does the total number of points available amount to more or less than the number you settled on to earn an A? The goal is to create approximately 1.25-1.5 more assignments than are necessary to do to earn an A, thus providing students with autonomy over (some of) their work. If your total value is less than what you’ve set as an A, then you need to either reduce your point threshold to earn an A (keeping in mind that you need more points than this available to enable student choice), increase the number of assignments you have created, or increase the value of specific assignments.
- Review the list you’ve created, considering the following:
- Are you enabling students to show that they have learned material through a variety of mediums? Can you add assignments that would allow this and work towards your learning objectives?
- Are you enabling students to make choices about what advanced content they will work on such that they can customize it to match their unique interests and goals?
- Do students have any control over when they do work, enabling them to make decisions about how to balance your course against their semester schedule? Many instructors have certain categories of assignments due at different intervals throughout the semester to stagger the grading and discourage students from procrastinating.
- Are there distinct assessment pathways that involve a progression of content or skill acquisition? You might make these explicit by using unlocks to declare that completion of one is required to move on to the next.
- Do you anticipate that some students in your course will come in with a high level knowledge on the content already? We’re observing instructors create pathways that are purposefully less time-consuming (involving fewer, higher-stakes assessments) for students who come in with a lot of existing subject knowledge.
- How are you going to grade each type of assessment?
- How are assignments distributed across the semester? We recommend looking at the workload week-to-week to make sure that the system isn’t so backloaded that no one is able to make progress until the very end of the semester.

- Starting with the value you’ve determined to be equivalent to earning an A, you now need to establish the point thresholds that match to each additional letter grade you will allow students to earn. Things to think about:
- Will you award +/- grades in addition to the whole letter grades?
- Will you award A+s to students? Read more about the A+ here.
- Do you want the difference between levels to be the same between each one? Some instructors make it harder to earn higher grades by increasing the point difference as you move upwards.
- If you map out across the semester students earn points, what is the earliest moment that they could earn an A? We recommend that it be possible to earn an C by at least halfway through the course.
- You don’t have to map levels earned directly to grades - you can build in many more levels than grades. We’ve found that leveling systems are especially successful when their own hierarchy teaches students something about the content domain--for example by naming levels in a course on the History of Cancer after the progression of Cancer treatments over history; students are excited to engage with the content as they succeed in the course.