Adam William Cummings


Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2015 taught by Zhang | Adam's mini-course: ANALYZING & DEVELOPING LEARNING GAMES

About me

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Born in Upstate New York, Adam graduated from the Dramatic Writing Conservatory at SUNY Purchase in 2004, and lived in Portland, OR until 2012 when he returned to New York to obtain a B.S. in Educational Media, and an M.S. in Curriculum Design and Instructional Technology from SUNY Albany. He has published many books, novels and plays including: Eros & Lavinia, Eros & Kalliope, Dead Man in Search of a Hole, Mythologies (3), The Opium Den Plays of Alexandre Lavinstad and Eleonore Archer (Volume One) and The Inexhaustible. He is currently Chief of bipolarmuseco./bipolarmusepress LLC.

My Topic/Purpose

I would like to focus on Games in the Classroom, primarily non-video games, and focusing on students 6-12th grade.

The subject itself is considered a cognitive strategy, and so we will explore ways to approach the topic and tailor it to one's specific goals. The goals of the games themselves can vary from: gauging students' pre-existing knowledge, reviewing materials/checking for comprehension, and overall assessment and recall abilities. Ganges defines the desired outcomes of any cognitive strategy as: 1. provide opportunities to work with novel problems 2. have students monitor their cognition 3. allow students to observe expert problem solvers at work

The process utilizes natural tendencies and a spirit of innovation and competition within the students, while also making use of a reward-based system.

OUTCOME: To be able to design 'games' to fit a variety of curriculum and assessment based needs.

Needs Assessment

1. Instructional problem: Standardized testing consists of a variety of seemingly random questions, the subject of which is generally unknown until the test is administered. This leaves both students and teachers in the dark about what specifically to prepare for, so, of course, the goal is to teach applicable and memorable information that the student can then utilize for the test (assuming the test-writers chose to cover that topic.) Without going into the many possible test scenarios that can arise, I believe that games have the ability to make certain information useful and thereby memorable to the student. Is this rote learning (which is generally frowned upon)? Yes and no. It is by nature a form of rote learning, but with proper technique and a knowleadgeble facilitator, one can use this technique to aid the student in exploration of their own meta-cognition and introduce them to mnemonic techniques that best serve that particular student.

2. The nature of what is to be learned: Once again, the nature of what is to be learned is set by the facilitator and certainly can be modified to meet their objectives. This process, which should begin in the summer months when class is not in session, is a form of ongoing, informal assessment, which must be aligned with the learning objectives.

3. About the learners: Generally grades 4-12 will benefit most. Modifications into a more visual-based forms can be conducted for ELL students.

4. Instructional content: The content is the discretion of the facilitator, however, I will be explaining techniques for designing questions, which in itself is a skill that all teachers will already have.

5. Explore instructional problem/solution: The problem is that assessments tend to become personalized and not socially addressed. That is to say that lessons are learned as a group and then a teacher will test or quiz an individual on the topic. If numerous students share the same misconception, it will be addressed, but if a variety of students have a variety of misconceptions, it will not be specifically addressed, so games become a way become a social form of assessment.

6. Generate goals: Here is a brief set of goals a facilitator may have: A. To collect substantial data about the student's interests, tendencies and learning styles. B. To facilitate a classroom that is aware of each others' interests. C. To be able to identify misconceptions and gaps in Constructivist learning and address them as a whole, sometimes with further instruction. D. To identify and then nurture particular student interests. E. To identify and then address particular deficiencies and misconceptions.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

While this approach can be modified for a variety of different contexts, it is generally recommended for students in grades 4-12, essentially as preparation for techniques that are transferable to standardized testing, and in some cases: performance based assessments. Within those parameters of a standard classroom, it is best utilized within an enrichment or ELA course. Although it can be used in the beginning 10 minutes of any class in which the teacher is confident that their material can be transferred to the test and perhaps to other disciplines. I recommend ELA because of the nature of the subject and how it lends itself to the other disciplines (language development is crucial to all subjects).

Performance Objectives

Students will:

-Exercise recall and mnemonic strategies.

-Examine their own meta-cognition and memory.

-Explore prior knowledge and build accordingly.

-Become aware of their peers interests, knowledge and preferred intelligence.

Teachers will:

-Develop data concerning student's interests, participation, recall and retention of information.

-Track the effectiveness of lessons both in their own course and among the other required course load.

-Promote participation and facilitate better group dynamics.

-Have a platform from which multiple lessons can be built and explored.

Task Analysis


1.1 Why games?

1.2 What different types of Games are there?

1.3 which one is best for your purposes?

1.4 Identifying desired learning outcomes.


2.1 Aligning games with desired learning outcomes.

2.2 Identifying student needs (based on data).

2.3 Integrating technology.

2.4 Data collection.


3.1 Analyzing Data.

3.2 Interpreting Data.

3.3 Making Changes. (based on data)


4.1 Building the Student-Instructor relationship.

4.2 Transferring these skills to testing.

4.3 Feedback.

4.4 Notes and Tips.

Curriculum Map

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References and Resources

Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G., & Angelova, G. (2015). Gamification in Education: A Systematic Mapping Study. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 18(3), 75-88.