Keep Learning Fun! Gamification and Competition in College 2024 RCHSS INAUGURAL STUDENT SUCCESS SUMMIT - designed by meredith K. Ginn, SENIOR leCturer, SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA, KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY

Today at this inaugural Student Success Summit, we will discuss:

Designing an escape room for educational purposes
Making dreaded presentations fun through competition and prizes
Using board games to keep students engaged in active learning

“Roominating” on Escape Room Design:

Set the Scene - start class in character
Plan for the unexpected - costs, curveballs, etc.
Give yourself DAYS for creative thinking
Create a music playlist to reinforce the theme
Provide a “carrot” or prize to motivate competition
Prepare hints or “lifelines” for students to use
Weave content and skill practice, if possible (at minimum do one!)
Assess the experience immediately!
Be prepared for a quick set-up and takedown

Positive Student Feedback and “Room” for Improvement:

What was the best aspect of participating in the escape room for COMM 1100? (Unedited student responses below)

Collaboration with my group to find a solution

The best part of this activity was probably the aspect that it was new and something different. The group aspect was fun having to solve problems with them was fun.

Getting to brainstorm with each other

It was an interesting change of pace.

It’s a more fun way to learn and it also allows us to make friends

Learning about the dynamics of working in group

Having a common goal and practicing communication to accomplish it.

It was so fun getting to walk around the classroom. I’m glad it was not on the computer

What was the worst aspect of participating in the escape room for COMM 1100? (Unedited student responses below)

Our group was quite large so it was hard to communicate effectively sometimes

How controlling some members are

There wasn’t much to complain about the small space was probably the only bad thing but there is not much you can do there.

The stations were a little close, maybe more spaced out.

Not winning

The Auburn reference I'm a Alabama fan

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience today? (Unedited student responses below)

It was much more fun than I thought it would be.

it was a great experience! definitely made class a lot of fun

It was a blast!!!!!

I would probably take this class again to do this again

10/10 please do it again

it was the best class I've had so far this year

Find "Room to Grow" in Your Teaching:

Which concepts do students find particularly challenging that could be explored in an escape room?
At what point in the semester might an escape room be useful for team-building purposes?
What type of game themes and settings might work well given the curriculum and courses taught?
What type of items might be needed to create an escape room?
What might the budget be? Are there funds available to support this creative teaching endeavor?

Esape Room Research + Resources:

Stone, Zara. “Why Teachers Are Asking Students to Escape from the Classroom.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 28 July 2016,

Veldkamp, Alice, et al. “Escape Education: A Systematic Review on Escape Rooms in Education.” Educational Research Review, Vol. 31, Nov. 2020. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2020.100364

Waggoner, Dillon R., et al. “Using an Escape Room as Gameful Training with Students.” NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition, NACE: National Association of Colleges and Employers, 1 Feb. 2019,

DIY Escape Rooms (handbook) by Forrest West

First-hand experience:

Making those "Dreaded" Student Presentations More Fun


Goal cards - beginning and end of semester

Pre-tests and post-tests (for example Personal Report of Public Speaking Anxiety by James McCroskey)


Peer Competition

Rubric Awards: Best Content, Organization, Delivery, Execution

Most Persuasive Appeal (pathos/ethos/logos)

Most Creative Topic

Panel Presentations - Best Cohesion, Most Convincing, Most Professional...

Best Presentation Aids


Small rewards - Piece of candy, bonus points, etc.

Larger rewards - Students love food/snacks, $5 gift cards, Dollar store items - it does not have to be expensive!

Drawing for prizes - list all winners/nominees in the Wheel of Names:

Combat Boredom with Board Games!

What Do You Meme?

Helps students visualize difficult concepts, such as communication theories


Partner review: questions

Presentation day: speaker order

Team trivia: establishing order

Rolling for research topics: topic list with number correlation

Rolling for team members for panel presentation


Team Trivia

Instructor asks questions/students use white board to chalkboard to tally points/scores

Online Games



Competition & Gamification Resources:

College Classroom Ideas:

Benefits of Gamification:

Student Engagement:

Student Competition:

"The 'three Be’s' can provide some guidance for monitoring the influence of competition in the classroom: • Be wise about the effects of competition for academic purposes. • Be savvy about which students may be less able to access their knowledge during confrontational recall. • Be thoughtful about whether competition is contributing to or detracting from educational goals and achievements." - Peggy Bennett

Bennett, Peggy D, ' Competition in the Classroom', Teaching with Vitality: Pathways to Health and Wellness for Teachers and Schools (New York, 2017; online edn, Oxford Academic, 12 Nov. 2020),, accessed 8 May 2024.

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Questions? Contact Meredith Ginn at KSU email: