RAP ON: What’s All the Kahoot! About?

About the author: Sydney Tran is a Health Psychology PhD student studying the effects of objectification on women’s well-being. She is passionate about equity, diversity, and inclusivity in improving mental health and well-being. This is part of our series of Research Advancing Pedagogy (RAPblogs, designed to share the latest pedagogical research from across the disciplines in a pragmatic format.

What is one way to measure students’ understanding, provide immediate feedback, and review material, all while keeping students engaged?

Instructors may spend much of their careers searching for the answer to this question because there is typically a tradeoff between measuring students’ understanding, providing immediate feedback, reviewing material, and keeping students engaged (Bord & Gurung, 2008). How do you do all four of these things with the limited amount of class sessions you have? Is it possible to do all four? In 2018, a public university in Finland went and sought an answer (Felszeghy, S., et al., 2019).

What did they do?

 In 2018, the University of Eastern Finland decided to try a gamification approach to learning, integrating gaming techniques and mechanics with their chosen course. First year dental and medical students who were enrolled in a histology course received this gamification approach. Researchers randomly assigned 215 students into 5-equal sized groups, with each group receiving the Kahoot quiz questions as an individual player at the beginning of the teaching session (TS), as a team at the beginning of the TS, as an individual at the end of the TS, as a team at the end of the TS, or as a team at both the beginning and end of the TS. The exam grades earned by this cohort was then compared with the exam grades earned by the 2017 cohort. The researchers also compared the average percentage scores between each group.

What did they find?

The 2018 male students who received and engaged with Kahoot, on average, earned higher grades than the 2017 male students who were not introduced to Kahoot. This was true for both medical and dental students. However, the 2018 female students who received and engaged with Kahoot earned slightly lower grades than the 2017 female students who were not introduced to Kahoot. Within the 2018 cohort, students who played Kahoot as a team tended to score higher than those who played as individuals. Those who played at the end of the TS scored higher than those who played at the beginning. However, students who scored the highest were those who played as a team once at the beginning of the TS and once at the end as a team. Overall, implementation of the Kahoot platform was associated with learning gains of the course material.

The researchers also assessed students’ satisfaction with the platform, perceived effectiveness in using Kahoot to learn, and motivation to engage with the platform. Overall, a majority of the students rated Kahoot positively and found the system to be useful because they were able to ask questions and obtain constructive feedback.

What does this mean for us?

 The results of this study suggest that taking a gamification approach to learning has some benefits for both the instructor and the students: Instructors are able to assess students’ understanding prior to an exam and provide immediate feedback as students quiz in.

Constructive feedback comes in easily because instructors are able to quickly see what questions and topics students need more clarification on: cue mini review session. The best part of it all?

Students are practicing active learning techniques (and they’re having fun doing it)!

So, what is one way to measure students’ understanding, provide immediate feedback, and review material, all while keeping students engaged? Kahoot seems to be an answer.

Bord, D., & Gurung, R. A. R. (2008). Enhancing learning and exam preparation. Observer. Retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/enhancing-learning-and-exam-preparation

Felszeghy, S., et al. (2019). Using online game-based platforms to improve student performance and engagement in histology teaching. BMC Medical Education, 19, 273-284.


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