No Ordinary Quest:
Students Game for Deeper Learning
A story celebrating teaching excellence at UBC — innovative, evidence-based and committed to transforming the student learning experience.
As an associate professor of applied biology at UBC, Maja Krzic knows there’s much more to soil science than what students will typically pick up in lectures and labs. Recognized as an expert in soil sciences with numerous teaching awards to her credit — not to mention an internationally recognized compendium of open-source courses and educational resources in soil sciences — one might assume Krzic’s approach would be that of a traditional ‘sage on the stage’ academic. But Krzic believes in hands-on learning and knows she can push students towards a whole new level of learning by getting them out into the fresh air and looking at the forest and soil in a natural setting.
In her never-ending quest to make her classes memorable, Krzic has brought real-world learning to her students. Supported by a UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) grant, Krzic teamed up with Richmond, BC-based mobile app developer 14 Oranges Software Inc., UBC Studios and graduate students to create the in-the-field gaming quest, Forest Humus Forms Quest, on the Questogo app. Using the GPS on their iPhones, the app dispatches students to find different types of soil and plants in the forest and has them answer questions as they go exploring. “We are basically guiding students through the steps a professional scientist goes through when he or she does these observational tasks in real life,” says Krzic. As a result, students retain the information better by having completed the real-world, hands-on observational investigation.
It’s motivating; the students’ results are shared on a classroom scoreboard and count toward a partial lab mark. Students can and do play the quest numerous times in order to boost their grades. More than being extrinsically motivating, the game is a powerful way to scaffold learning across different modalities. “We’ve uploaded various photographs to help students with the quest,” says Krzic. “The repetition and the visual prompts are useful for complementary learning.”
I want to use relevant methods in my curriculum by using technology that students use in their daily life.
Evidence-based, technology-enabled teaching methods such as Dr. Krzic’s enable students to anchor their learning in real-world scenarios, which ultimately leads to greater success.