About four years ago, Jacqueline Gasser-Beck, Head of the Teaching Innovation Lab at University of St. Gallen in St. Gallen, Switzerland, was discussing trends in education and technology with university faculty. The topic of gamification sparked interest, especially from Professor Martin Eling in the Institute of Insurance Economics. In his experience, students often find insurance topics to be dry and boring; he thought introducing elements of gaming into the learning could be beneficial.
St. Gallen is a leading public university in business education, offering bachelor, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as executive education to about 10,000 students. The Teaching Innovation Lab's primary mission is the development of innovative and academically demanding teaching formats together with faculty members. The Lab is a contact point for faculty members who want to do something new and are looking for advice and require support.
Professor Eling’s approach to developing gaming resources for insurance courses was to involve students in the development – teach them gaming theory and let them build a tool they thought would be useful and engaging. In 2015, with support from the Teaching Innovation Lab, PhD students developed an insurance-linked desktop variation on the popular television show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
This app won a prize from the international insurance industry and was used as a flagship for teaching possibilities in the Teaching Innovation Lab. However, other professors consider development of resources built around gaming to be too time-consuming and demanding.
Professor Eling chose to continue developing new tools but changed the focus to the creation of a Gaming Toolbox, offering a variety of gaming ideas and templates. Students develop gaming ideas based, first of all, on research into a topic in the field of insurance they think suitable for gamification. Once they are familiar with gaming and insurance concepts, they develop templates for a game, as well as a working model. In many cases, open educational resources are integrated into the app.
The Gamification Toolbox is an open educational resource offering, in English, detailed descriptions of how to play each game, as well as templates and models. The content can be modified to include insurance information relevant in various countries. The games are divided into four categories, each of which contains numerous apps:
- Who Wants to be a Millionaire?;
- Pub Quiz;
- Jeopardy; and
- Guessing Game.
- Political Debate on controversial topics in the insurance industry;
- Clash of Generations in which professionals and students work together to create a new insurance product;
- Insurance Sharing, replicating an insurance sharing initiative; and
- Strategic Market Entry Project to analyze market entry possibilities and strategies.
- Treasure Hunt, structured for mobile devices and adaptable to any field of study;
- Insurance Badges, making decisions based on historical data;
- Memory Cards, matching question and answer cards; and
- Insurance Bowling, an app to teach risk assessment.
- Adverse and Advantageous Selection Simulation;
- Insurance Pricing Game;
- Optimal Deductible Case;
- Risk Management Game;
- Business Simulation Game; and
- Smith Family Case. The introduction to this case is presented below as an example of the information and resources offered for each app in the Gamification Toolbox.
Example from the Gamification Toolbox:
Smith Family Game
Be a financial consultant for the Smith Family and help them to make the right insurance decisions.
- Target Group
Students starting to dive into the concept of insurance.
- Learning Goals
Experience the impact of loss frequency and severity.
- Preparatory Effort
All the material is provided. If no changes are needed, a time effort of two hours is needed to understand the concept of the game.
- Game Duration
40 minutes for game introduction and 15 minutes for each round (out of four).
- Number of Players
20-40 or even more depending on the number and size of groups.
- Resources Needed
- Game Description
In this game groups of students take the role of a financial consultant who has to make insurance decisions for the Smith Family, a middle-class family with one child. By considering their financial situations and personal wishes, each group has to make several decisions on the purchase of insurance in each round. In total, the game consists of four rounds. Loss realization depends on the outcome of a 20-sided die roll.
In addition to the Gamification Toolbox, an information technology professor introduced gaming in his coding course. Students use specific YouTube videos to learn coding and then create code for a specific project. The professor is the guide, support, faciliatory and does assessment. He awards points for progress in the coding, posting them on a leaderboard to heighten competition. Students can buy ‘monsters’ with their points or use them to get access to other students’ code. This style of teaching coding in the framework of a game was popular with students and resulted in high levels of activity and learning.
Benefits and Outcomes
The students in Professor Eling’s class who developed the Gamification Toolbox resources enjoyed the assignment and the learning, often dedicating extra time to ensure quality results. Their approach was creative, emphasizing design and the development and testing of prototypes and mock-ups. Their involvement in the Toolbox resulted in better performance in exams than their peers.
The apps and results were widely shared at the University through presentations at the annual Teaching Day, newsletters and news releases. The positive experiences and response of the students was especially promoted.
Challenges and Enhancement
Jacqueline Gasser-Beck highlights sustainability as the major challenge. Despite the emphasis on creativity rather than technological skills and the support available from the Teaching Innovation Lab, other professors remain reluctant to develop gamification apps or integrate already available ones in their courses.
The Teaching Innovation Lab continues to support and encourage professors to consider the benefits of gaming for their students. They provide seed money of about 20,000 Swiss Francs (about $26,500) and do not require major research and publications. The purpose is to motivate faculty to experiment with different formats for teaching and learning.
For Further Information
Teaching Innovation Lab
University of St. Gallen
St. Gallen, Switzerland