Applying Gamification to College Student Retention and Graduation: Play Test and Pilot Study

Stephanie Coopman, Ge Gao, James Morgan and Ted Coopman


This paper reports on a project to apply gamification to undergraduate advising to improve current students' retention and graduation rates. One stumbling block to students staying in and completing their bachelor's degree is adapting to university culture and practices. An online quest designed to orient transfer students to the university was play tested with 44 students currently attending the university. Positive responses centered on the quest charting the path to graduation, creating awareness of campus programs, encouraging students to get more involved in campus events, providing a check list for opportunities at the university, giving a guide for what students can expect from school, and keeping students on track. Suggestions for improvement included incorporating more opportunities to interact online with other students, providing greater context for each activity, explaining students' options in more detail, and incorporating videos and images. The paper outlines the rationale that drove this project, the project design and its initial testing, modifications made based on the initial play testing, and describes the next step in implementing the pilot project with Fall 2014 transfer students.