For practitioners and scholars of teaching and learning at The University of Iowa
Volume 1 | Issue 2
March 2015

We've Got Game: Game-Based Learning at Iowa
Student-Focused Changes in UI Classroom
Upcoming Events 
Keynote by Lee Sheldon:
Game-based Learning, The Multiplayer Classroom and You 
March 25, 4:30-6:00 pm C20 Pomerantz Center 
Master Class: Gaming your Class
March 26 from 10:00 - 11:30 am
N140 Lindquist , Teacher Leader Center (Register)
Center for Teaching

As instructors who use "Jeopardy" in their classes can attest, game-based learning (GBL) strategies can be an engaging and effective way to help students learn.


Well-designed game-based teaching strategies are more than just "fun and games"-research indicates that they can provide a number of advantages to learning, including:

  • Integrating assessment and contextual feedback (Gee, 2003; 2007).
  • Motivating students in a state of 'flow' (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).
  • Helping to scaffold instruction, reinforce learning, and enhance social learning (Shaffer, 2006; Presnky, 2003).

Playing games is a regular part of college students' lives. A 2003 report of college students' gaming behavior indicated that 65% reported being regular or occasional game players and 70% reported playing video, computer, or online games at least once in a while. These statistics long predate Angry Birds and Candy Crush, and it is safe to say that digital gaming continues to be an important part of students' lives... 


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Vintage UI classroom. Circa 1920s.
The University of Iowa's General Assignment Classrooms have seen more student-focused improvements in recent years, thanks to a joint partnership between the Office of the Registrar and ITS Office of Teaching Learning & Technology (OTLT). Beginning in 2012, Teaching and Learning Technologies staff has been conducting observational sessions in campus classrooms and surveying different campus class participants to identify specific improvements that could be made to standard classrooms to enhance student learning.

Those research efforts have helped us select classrooms on campus to update with additional writing surfaces and easier access to power sockets for laptops, cell phones, and other devices. Project team members also focused on right-sizing the type and amount of seating in a given classroom. In several cases, seat counts were reduced to increase space and reconfigure seating. Traditional tablet arm chairs were also replaced with newer "collaboration-style tablet seating," which offer casters for more mobility and feature storage space and writing surfaces to accommodate student gear...


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In larger classes, TAs are often the "face" of the course, spending the most time with students and fielding difficult questions not only about course content but also grading. Rather than being supplemental to student success, a TA-led discussion section may make the difference between a student passing or failing a course.


During the semester, faculty members and TAs can seize a number of opportunities to build positive, productive relationships that will further support student success.

  • As much as possible, TAs should be engaged in teaching, in addition to the business of the class; even TAs hired as specifically as graders can make a contribution to the design and classroom delivery of a course...

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The Center for Teaching is launching a new corner of the ITS Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology web site to showcase some of the most innovative teaching happening every day at The University of Iowa. "The Extraordinary Teaching Project" includes video clips of instructors describing creative teaching strategies and reflecting on their teaching philosophies. A QuickStart guide for each clip provides examples, best practices, relevant technology and UI teaching resources...

During the next three years, the Center for Teaching, ITS Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology, will partner with UI and Grinnell College faculty members to develop humanities-centered collaborations that implement digital technologies. Through a $1.6 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the "Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry" initiative will provide support for faculty members to enhance their digital skills...


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Keynote by Lee Sheldon:
Game-based Learning, The Multiplayer Classroom and You 
March 25, 4:30 - 6:00 pm C20 Pomerantz Center 
April 14, 4:00 - 5:30 pm
2520D University Capitol Centre

TILE Accelerator-Reinventing the Classroom and the Toilet with Engineering Instructor Craig Just

Master Class: Gaming Your Class
March 26 , 10:00 - 11:30 am

N140 Lindquist , Teacher Leader Center 


Reading Digitally: Successful Strategies for Engaging Students in e-Texts
April 15, 12:00 - 1:30 pm
2390 University Capitol Centre

Master Class: Gaming Points of View
March 26, 3:00 - 4:30 pm
N140 Lindquist , Teacher Leader Center