Author: Shannon Saluga
Date: June 6, 2023
There has been a lot of focus on using active learning activities to increase engagement in the classroom, and for good reasons. Many different approaches to remote and online learning have been created in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but even in a post-pandemic era, the interactive online resources created out of necessity can be modified and used effectively after students have returned to the in-person classroom.
One such program is Twine! Gamification. Various forums, including our own FLIP’D blog, have discussed it. In this post, I want to narrow the focus to discuss a platform and tool for educators to incorporate into their classrooms.
During 2020, virtual substitutes had to be made for most curricula. These were built out of necessity due to the pandemic moving all laboratory experiences online. Twine was the solution of the UCI Organic Chemistry Lab team, of which I was a part of. Twine is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure (CYOA) game generator. It is free-to-use, user-friendly, and requires little to no coding experience. It was used to create virtual organic chemistry lab experiences (1), which many students loved. I worked on this project with two other graduate students and a small team of undergraduate beta-testers, most of us without any experience with coding. Initially, we beta-tested a single large experiment created over the summer. After the positive response, the team created a full course load of Twine lab exercises in a little over three months.
Caption: Figure 1. Image of Twine-based pathways, showing student choices and the different outcomes based on student choice. Reproduced from Abstract Image in (1). Copyright held by the authors.
Our Twine utilized an extension created by John Stewart, which allowed instructors to obtain a record of the choices made throughout the game via Google Sheets (2). The ability to store evaluation variables in Twine and export the state of each variable at the end of each student’s use of the CYOA activity provided insight into how students progressed through the activity and how many times the activity was used. This allowed us to determine both whether the students eventually found themselves down the “correct path” and how many times they played the game. We found that, on average, students voluntarily went through the experiment more than once, with some students playing it over four times.
Caption: Figure 2. Creator/instructor view in Twine of CYOA activity depicting six main paths. Expansion represents the beginning of the activity as seen by students. Reproduced from Figure 1 in (1). Copyright held by the authors.
The inspiration for this work came from Rasmussen (3), who advocated for storytelling as a medium for learning. The authors believe in the “power of choice” as an empowering and motivating strategy that should be included within the curriculum and allow students to make anecdotal connections to the source material.
We found that students enjoyed the Twine activity more than watching Teaching Assistant-led videos and self-reported that they understood the concepts of organic chemistry better after using the Twine. Moving beyond the scientific laboratory, Twine has been used to create interactive learning experiences in marketing (4) and history (5). Both studies were received positively by students, reflecting the results we saw in our own students.
Even now that we have returned to in-person laboratory experiences, Twine is still utilized in the organic chemistry lab curriculum as pre-lab exercises. I found a lot of joy and satisfaction in the creation and implementation of the Twine labs, as well as the positive student feedback our team received. I hope to see them implemented in other disciples and for other educational uses.
Give it a look! Create your own Twine exercise here: https://twinery.org/
- Saluga, S. J.; Peacock, H.; Seith, D.D.; Boone, C. C. A.; Fazeli, Y.: Huynh, R. M.; Luo, J.; Naghi, Z.; Link, R. D. Inter-Twine-d: Combining Organic Chemistry Laboratory and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Games. J. Chem. Educ. 2022, 99,3964−3974
- Rasmusson, T. Interactive Storytelling, Gamification and Online Education: Storytelling Made Easy. Int. J. Innov. Online Educ. 2017, 1 (3), 1−16.
- Bechkoff, J.R. Gamification Using a Choose-Your-Own Adventure Type Platform to Augment Learning and Facilitate Student Engagement in Marketing Education. Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education 2019, 27 (1), 13−30.
Stewart, J.; Sheppard, K. Choose Your Own Adventure: Gamified Course Design in History of Science. IJDL 2021, 12 (2), 40−48.