High-Impact Practices (HIPs), Gamification, and Educational Taxonomy: Scaffolding and Vertical Integration of Common Intellectual Experiences in Higher Education

Document Type


Publication Title

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal


Research has demonstrated the proven educational benefits of the gamification of teaching and learning. Through active learning and engaging more deeply with subjects taught, students demonstrate better time on tasks, as well as learning retention and outcomes. For the same reason, high-impact practices (HIPs), otherwise known as engaged learning practices, are embedded instructional practices broadly adopted across postsecondary education. However, there remains little to no research on game-based learning (GBL) and its potential alignment with HIPs, nor their pedagogical best practices with theories of gamification. One reason for this is the view that gamification and GBL are framing devices or delivery mechanisms for existing academic content in a specific discipline and not a means unto an end. However, gamification itself may be viewed as a common intellectual experience (CIE) and as a common core standard with cocurricular experiences embedded within, especially if students engage with principles in a scaffolded fashion over the course of their education. HIPs are generally introduced to students from their first year on through graduation, with first-year experiences to capstone courses and projects. This study proposes a model of alignment of the two, whereby the scholarship of teaching and learning views gamification as a central component (CIE). A new high-impact gamification model would combine HIPs and scaffolding, along with an understanding of GBL, allowing students to build specific skills. Starting with horizontal integration in specific courses, specific HIPs are introduced and reinforced through GBL. The curriculum then vertically integrates these CIEs over the course of a student’s degree plan. Finally, while the model can be applied to any discipline, this study outlines a way to use gamification to teach game design and development. Through multiple touchstones, students learn through play and different genres that appeal to different demographics until ultimately cultivating skills to produce their own playable prototype as a capstone project.



Publication Date