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ADD/ADHD Classroom Modifications: Gamification - Competitive vs. Cooperative

by Hawke Robinson published Jan 19, 2016 01:55 PM, last modified Apr 04, 2016 12:39 AM
This is a less formal, discussion posting. Not really cleaned up, since I have other deadlines looming where I need to focus my time. But I wanted to post it while thinking about it, before it gets buried by other projects. It is a slightly lengthy, not quite essay, regarding my concerns about the recommendations for "gamification" of instruction in the classroom, especially competitive versus cooperative. It is posted more as a forum discussion request. I look forward to everyone's comments. At the time of this posting I was taking an elective course in Teaching Youth & Teens with ADD / ADHD & Executive Function (EF) Deficits. Basically how to understand and provide appropriate adaptations when teaching this population group. Part of the course includes online discussions. I thought I would save for discussion outside of the classroom, my postings of related topics. I welcome feedback from others...

This is a less formal, discussion posting. Not really cleaned up, since I have other deadlines looming where I need to focus my time. But I wanted to post it while thinking about it, before it gets buried by other projects. It is a slightly lengthy, not quite essay, regarding my concerns about the recommendations for "gamification" of instruction in the classroom, especially competitive versus cooperative. It is posted more as a forum discussion request. I look forward to everyone's comments.
I am currently taking an elective course in Teaching Youth & Teens with ADD / ADHD & Executive Function (EF) Deficits. Basically how to understand and provide appropriate adaptations when teaching this population group. Part of the course includes online discussions. I thought I would save for discussion outside of the classroom, my postings of related topics. I welcome feedback from others...

Here is a lengthy, not quite essay, regarding my concerns about the recommendations for "gamification" of instruction in the classroom, especially competitive versus cooperative. I am going to post that as a separate article, since it is so long. It should be on the RPG Research Project website Blog shortly: http://www.rpgresearch.com/blog

I look forward to everyone's comments.

The textbook referenced is:

"Teaching Teens with ADD, ADHD, & Executive Function Deficits" by Dendy, M.S.. Though it should be easy enough to follow the topics of discussion without having the textbook.
I am currently taking an elective course in Teaching Youth & Teens With ADD/ADHD.

Basically how to understand and provide appropriate adaptations when teaching this population group. Part of the course includes online discussions. I thought I would save for discussion outside of the classroom, my postings of related topics. I welcome feedback from others...

As an aide to this discussion, below is a diagram I created some time ago, summarizing the Avedon Interaction Patterns, and how they related to various formats of role-playing games, and in the context of this conversation, modifications in the classroom for youth and teens with ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder).

If you do not already know this, I am coming from the Recreation Therapy / Therapeutic Recreation perspective, so will be often look for information in the summaries that are a good match.

Also I have a more specialized area of interest in using role-playing games in all formats (tabletop, computer-based, live-action (LARP), and choose your own adventure (CYOA)) as a specific intervention modality.

So when I see summaries in textbooks that repeatedly suggest basically "gamification" of classroom education activities to increase stimulation and interest for ADD/ADHD, it is very much in my bailiwick of interest. :-)

However, I do have concerns ( according to their literature, does the TR industry as a whole) with the overemphasis on competitive activities over cooperative.

Even the second-to-last summary of section 2 (Summary 24), uses the term "math games as a form of cooperative learning" (textbook, p 114), but every single activity is competitive not cooperative. It is only semi-cooperative with fellow team mates (when there are teams mentioned), but not one of the activities is truly cooperative.

Considering how fragile (or completely lacking) the self confidence is for so many youth, especially those struggling, putting them in competitive situations, where there is guaranteed to be a "loser" or losing team (don't get me started on the "give awards to everyone so there are no losers" approach that has shown to be counterproductive, :-) ), it seems trying to find interesting and stimulating approaches to cooperative would be a wiser approach for this population, and it meanwhile helps build confidence without false awards.

While competition has its place, since it is the nature of survival, the overemphasis in our culture on competition over cooperation is a real concern for many, and I am a strong advocate for finding more ways to develop and implement cooperative programs over competitive since there is no shortage of competitive programs, but such a dearth of cooperative, it seems more worthwhile to put the energy into coming up with the cooperative efforts.

At the beginning of this posting is my one page graphical summary overview of the Avedon Interaction Patterns (and how different forms of RPG apply (more on that later): http://rpgr.org/blog/avedons-interaction-patterns-analysis-rpg-summary-page

The detailed version is many pages long (not included here).

Most of the activities in the textbook are typically "Aggregate" (typical school assignment process), "Inter-individual" (one-on-one competition), "Unilateral" (everyone-vs-everyone competition), or "Intergroup" (team(s) vs. team(s)) competition.

My emphasis is in trying to find more activities that fit the "Intragroup" interactive pattern. Here are a bunch of quotes on that topic:

Avedon Intragroup pattern: "Action of a cooperative nature by two or more persons intent upon reaching a mutual goal. Action requires positive verbal and nonverbal interaction (Avedon, 1974, p. 169)."

The "TR Cookbook", a program planning "bible" for the TR profession states: "“Learning how to cooperate and function successfully as a group member is a difficult task, but one that most clients need.”(Stumbo & Peterson, “Cookbook”, p.191) " and "“Activities in this category are essential in helping establish social skills, since so many interactions in life require compromise and cooperation. Family life, most social situations, and work are everyday examples that require intragroup interaction abilities.” (Stumbo & Peterson, “Cookbook”, p.192)" ... “Programming activities in this category is overwhelmingly important when we wish to assist clients in the development of positive and cooperative interactional skills.” (192) ... “Many professional feel that competitive activities are overemphasized in therapeutic recreation programs. The concept that fun has to involve doing someone else in or beating the other person is indeed narrow. Enjoyment should be fostered through cooperative action as well.” (192) ... “Finding or creating good activities that utilize the intragroup pattern is a challenge for the therapeutic recreation specialist. It often is difficult to establish a mutual goal that is attractive enough to the participants to establish a mutual goal that is attractive enough to the participants to facilitate positive interactions.”(192) ... “Nevertheless, the benefits resulting from successful participation in intragroup activities make the effort well worthwhile.” (192)

Game Theory refers to this cooperative gaming as a nonzero-sum game, (Schick) participants are able to experience overcoming challenges and achieving success without it being at the cost of fellow players (as is the case in most tabletop and some live-action role-playing games).

In the Fall 1994 Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis 27(3),, study titled "Cooperative games: a way to modify aggressive and cooperative behaviors in young children.”, the researchers state: “Results showed that cooperative behavior increased and aggression decreased during cooperative games; conversely, competitive games were followed by increases in aggressive behavior and decreases in cooperative behavior. Similar effects were also found during free-play periods.”

And with the ADD/ADHD population and behavior patterns often tending towards more aggressive behavior, this is a serious consideration if deciding between competitive vs. cooperative approaches to gamification. It appears that cooperative games are indicated as a better match for achieving desired behavior modification.

Role-playing gaming is by design a cooperative past time, which in and of itself may have significant benefits in the world where everything is becoming competitive at all ages and levels of society. Jessica Statsky, author of the essay Children Need to Play, Not Compete, expressed her concern about the over-competitive attitude towards play, and lack of cooperation-based activities by stating:

“Their goals should be having fun, learning, and being with friends. Although winning does add to the fun, too many adults lose sight of what matters and make winning the most important goal.” (Statsky, 157)

So, I hope the above has been useful in persuading the reader that there is value in considering more cooperative approaches over competitive. Whether convinced or not, here is how I approach the modification ideas using various adapted forms of RPGs for different subjects.

First of all, if the students have enough interest in the games themselves, this turns the motivations for learning from extrinsic into intrinsic, which of course means a much more motivated and engaged student!

Quoting HBO's VICE media article on LARP in Denmark: “"We observed a lot of young people absorbing a lot of knowledge in order to play the games. Thick books in foreign languages containing complex descriptions of processes, rules and environments, or large quantities of different fiction—or historically based literature," (VICE)

 

For language (foreign or otherwise) development:

Using interactive drama (Live-Action Role-Playing LARP related), Cheng & Phillips taught English to Chinese students...

Lengthy quote from Journal on Interactive Drama: "When the interactive drama free form live action role playing game is staged each participant leaves his or her true identity behind and becomes immersed in the role to be played in the drama. Characters meet, and through the process of conversation, look for allies, hunt down enemies, or do whatever else it takes to accomplish their personal goals (Phillips & Cheng, 2004,227).

In summary, an interactive drama is an event in which the director and players work together to create a role. The player comes to the venue of the activity, immerses himself or herself into the role, and then begins to interact with the other characters involved in the activity. They often interact in small groups to exchange information, create alliances, or negotiate treaties. Players often try to discover the secrets of other players while at the same time suppressing the dissemination of their own secrets. As the participants interact, a story is created. The twists of the plot depend on the actions taken by the participants in the drama.

Comparing Interactive Dramas and Role Play Activities Interactive dramas have a number of differences that distinguish them from the language role plays and dramas typically used in English language learning classrooms.

Interactive Dramas should be distinguished from Language Role Plays, Classroom Dramas,and other more commonly employed classroom language learning exercises which teachers routinely use. Classroom dramas usually work from a prewritten script negating the need for students to improvise with creative original language. Interactive dramas are interactive stories in which the scenario furnishes the basic plot elements and the players shape the narrative through their actions within the context of the game. The flexible plot forces participants to improvise and create instead of relying on a set script. At the same time teachers can encourage the language used in the game, guided around vocabulary or context-sensitive goals. Interactive dramas are also social activities that are played through the verbal interchange of the players making them ideal activities for language learners (Phillips & Cheng 2004, p. 228)." (JID)

 

For math skills development:

For younger players, that just need to work on math fundamentals like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. RPGs (depending on the game system) generally constantly use math in the creation of a “character”, how strong, how smart, how fast, etc. and for resolution of all actions. Was your character able to leap across the chasm? The thief able to sneak past the bad guys and steal back the valuable heirloom without being heard? The warrior able to wrestle the thief to the ground?

All of these steps require at the minimum, basic math skills to be used constantly.

More advanced systems get into much more complicated math, but there are plenty of simpler systems accessible to very young ages.

There is also typically an element of chance, using dice, cards, spinners, etc., and then established “modifiers” to these results.

Example, the third grader decides to make a character “Brawn the Barbarian”. The scale they use is from 3 to 18 (typical D&D scale), with 3 the weakest, and 18 the strongest. At 3, all attempts at difficult tasks will have rolls modified by -4, while at 18 it will be modified by +4.

During the character creation process, the player rolled 3 six-sided dice, and added up the total, in this case, one four and two sixes, for a total of 16, this means all the action rolls will be modified by a +3. The character has a quite strong at 16. Later during an “adventure” the player states he wants his character to try force a gate to an abandoned keep open. In this game system (D&D), they use a twenty-sided (“icosahdron) die, that can show results anywhere from 1 to 20. The player roles this die, with a result of 15, then adds the benefit of the character's strength (16) modified (+3), for a total of 18. He need to roll a total modified result of 17 or higher to break the gate free (determines relative levels of difficulty). Brawn the Barbarians succeeds in tearing open the gate to see what wonders (and dangers) lurk within!

Look at how many concepts and mathematical applications took place in just that very simplified example, and meanwhile they are having fun while constantly using these many skills!

All of these examples can take place in a fully cooperative form, rather than the list of 100% competitive examples in the textbook, and most similar resources.

I appreciate commentary, feedback, insights, suggestions, etc.

Happy Gaming!

-Hawke

 

Some References:

Bay-Hinitz, April K.; Peterson, Robert F.; and Quilitch, H. Robert. “Cooperative games: a way to modify aggressive and cooperative behaviors in young children.” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27(3). (1994, Fall): 433-446. http://rpgr.org/documents/-list/1994-cooperative-games-a-way-to-modify-aggressive-and-cooperative-behaviors-in-young-children (Links to an external site.)

Statsky, Jessica. “Children Need to Play, Not Compete.” Beyond Fundamentals – Exposition, Argumentation, and Narration. A Custom Text and Reader for Eastern Washington University. Ed. Boston & New York: Bedford / St. Martin's, 2006. 156-15

Pearl, M. "At This Danish School, LARPing Is the Future of Education" - http://www.vice.com/read/at-this-danish-school-larping-is-the-future-of-education-482 (Links to an external site.) VICE Media.

Cheng, M. & Phillips, B. (2006). Vicarious Border crossings via interactive drama: Developing language skills and communicative interactivity. Selected Papers from the Fifteenth International Symposium on English Teaching. (pp. 313-324) Taipei:English Teacher’s Association of the Republic of China.

JID - Journal of Interactive Drama. Volume 3, Issue 3, November 2008. http://www.interactivedramas.info/archive/IDJ_3_3_2008_11.pdf (Links to an external site.)

 

 

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