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Enhancing New Employee Orientation with a Digital Scavenger Hunt

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Enhancing New Employee Orientation with a Digital Scavenger Hunt

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Karen Burns, Asst. Coordinator of Faculty Development | The University of Alabama
Enhancing New Employee Orientation with a Digital Scavenger Hunt

Pervasive games are a burgeoning genre in which the affordances of mobile devices are used to extend the boundaries of digital games into the real world. This game genre leverages the GPS, photo, video, and texting capabilities of smart phone devices in order to create games that require location-dependent and context-sensitive interactions between the physical and virtual environments. One particular form of pervasive games is a digital scavenger hunt.

This presentation will focus on the findings of a study in which a digital scavenger hunt was integrated into new employee orientation. The goal of the study is to determine if a digital scavenger hunt can be an effective means of enhancing the typical employee orientation by reinforcing information provided during the face-to-face sessions, introducing new information, reducing the stress new employees typically feel, and fostering employee competence. While this study is ongoing, data collection and analysis will be completed by May 2019.

This session will report on the findings of this study and include a discussion of the successes and challenges of the study. Additionally, discussion will center on potential applications of a digital scavenger hunt being used as a means of learning through discovery.

Presented by the
Serious Play Conference
seriousplayconf.com
at
Orlando,
University of Central Florida,
UCF,
July 24-26, 2019

Karen Burns, Asst. Coordinator of Faculty Development | The University of Alabama
Enhancing New Employee Orientation with a Digital Scavenger Hunt

Pervasive games are a burgeoning genre in which the affordances of mobile devices are used to extend the boundaries of digital games into the real world. This game genre leverages the GPS, photo, video, and texting capabilities of smart phone devices in order to create games that require location-dependent and context-sensitive interactions between the physical and virtual environments. One particular form of pervasive games is a digital scavenger hunt.

This presentation will focus on the findings of a study in which a digital scavenger hunt was integrated into new employee orientation. The goal of the study is to determine if a digital scavenger hunt can be an effective means of enhancing the typical employee orientation by reinforcing information provided during the face-to-face sessions, introducing new information, reducing the stress new employees typically feel, and fostering employee competence. While this study is ongoing, data collection and analysis will be completed by May 2019.

This session will report on the findings of this study and include a discussion of the successes and challenges of the study. Additionally, discussion will center on potential applications of a digital scavenger hunt being used as a means of learning through discovery.

Presented by the
Serious Play Conference
seriousplayconf.com
at
Orlando,
University of Central Florida,
UCF,
July 24-26, 2019

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Enhancing New Employee Orientation with a Digital Scavenger Hunt

  1. 1. Enhancing New Employee Orientation with a Digital Scavenger Hunt Karen A. Burns Assistant Coordinator of Faculty Development The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  2. 2. A work in progress PhD Candidate Instructional Leadership with an emphasis on Instructional Technology ABD (All But Dissertation)
  3. 3. “Academia isn’t just for the smart and the talented. It’s for the curious and passionate individuals who aim to make a difference.” (author unknown)
  4. 4. Can Learning be Fun? Image By Tourtefouille - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43348832 Focus Engage Concentrate Challenge Laugh Converse Absorb Achieve
  5. 5. What started it all? A boring website and a huge checklist Welcome to OIT! Here are all the things you need to do:  Meet your coworkers  Complete paperwork with Tammy in Rm 342  Get your Action Card in the Student Services Center (across campus)  Get parking decal from Parking Services  See Teresa for your OIT ID Badge in Rm. 219  Enter your info for Fac/Staff directory  Sign up for emergency alerts  Order business cards through Dianne (348-5555)  Gather office supplies from Lou in Lloyd Hall  Receive phone instructions from telecom (348-1111)  Take a tour with your manager
  6. 6. Static Website to Interactive Game?
  7. 7. Design to Feasibility (available)
  8. 8. New Employee Orientation Good, but…. potential problems. • Overwhelming • Too much information • Not enough time • Inconsistent information • Stressful
  9. 9. Distinguish Orientation from Onboarding • Onboarding • Encompasses all the processes needed to fully advance a individual into a productive, seasoned employee. • Begins day of hire and continues until…? • Orientation • An event. One of the processes in onboarding. • Face-to-face with HR personnel. • Often on first day of employment. • Includes same information for all employees.
  10. 10. Digital Game-Based Learning 1. Games have a motivational power to make learning fun 2. Learning by doing is a powerful learning tool. Games can promote collaborative learning and support cognitive learning strategies
  11. 11. Pervasive Games and Scavenger Hunts Pervasive Games • Include the real-world • Not restricted to a single location • Often no player restrictions Scavenger Hunts • Paper or Digital • Players, in groups or individually, have a prepared list of things to find or do usually in a set amount of time. The first to complete all items wins.
  12. 12. Theory of Motivation Self-Determination Theory (SDT) ◦ We are moved to action through motivation. ◦ Intrinsic motivators are enjoyable and interesting activities. ◦ Extrinsic motivators may not so enjoyable or interesting, but are a means to a desired end. Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET) ◦ A sub-theory of SDT that identify three basic psychological needs that must be met to facilitate intrinsic motivation: Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness. Autonomy Having ownership and control of one’s behaviors Competence Achieving mastery or success Relatedness Having a connection with others
  13. 13. CET = 3 Basic Psychological Needs at Work in Game Play Autonomy Having ownership and control of one’s behaviors Competence Achieving mastery or success Relatedness Having a connection with others Learner interest Confidence Competence in job performance Relations to coworkers Choosing to play Achievements/Advancements Collaboration Choices
  14. 14. The Study Location • A state university in the southeast. Participants • Full-time, first-time hired staff (no faculty or student employees) • iPhone or Android owner
  15. 15. Data Collection Instruments 3 Surveys • Pre-test and Post-test (same questions, different order) • Psychological Need Satisfaction at Work Scale • Psychological Need Satisfaction in game play scale The Game (test group) Email with links to standard employee information (control group)
  16. 16. Game Activity Digital Scavenger Hunt - GooseChase.com 30 Missions - 12 Text – online resources - 12 Photo and video - 6 GPS 12 Days to play Individual play Example missions
  17. 17. Game Design 1. Define the purpose 2. Define the goals & objectives 3. Consider mechanics and dynamics 4. Ensure missions have potential to meet psychological needs 5. Establish timeframe for play 6. Test and review List of all missions
  18. 18. Submissions Hub in game administrator panel
  19. 19. Mission examples Mission Name Descriptions A quad icon Take a picture of yourself in front of this iconic building! It doesn't have to be your face. A hand or big toe will do. Climb, walk, run, lift, swim, or dance Up for some exercise? The university has got you covered with at least three major facilities available to all faculty, staff, and students. Visit one of the locations and snap a photo of your activity of choice. Bonus points if you are performing the activity in the photo! History 101 Locate a historical monument on campus. Take a photo or video re-enacting a moment in history with this monument. Extra points if you recruit other people to join in. Room for Growth On the main page of their website, this group states that they "positively influence the campus Community by motivating, encouraging, and enabling others to grow". What is the name of the group?
  20. 20. Procedures Study Procedures Test Group Control Group Phase I – 7 days Phase I – 7 days • Demographic and gamer status questionnaire • Demographic and gamer status questionnaire • Pre-test • Pre-test Phase II – 12 days Phase II - 12 days • Game Activity • Independent learning Phase III – 7 days Phase III – 7 days • Post-test • Post-test • Psychological Need Satisfaction at Work Survey • Psychological Need Satisfaction at Work Survey • Psychological Need Satisfaction in Game Play Survey
  21. 21. Research Questions 1. Is there a difference in autonomy, competence, and relatedness in new employees based on their participation in a game-based onboarding activity compared to those who do not participate in a game-based onboarding activity? 2. Is there a difference in the retention of fundamental institutional information based on employee participation in a game-based onboarding activity compared to those who do not participate in a game-based onboarding activity?
  22. 22. Results • October 2018 – May 2019 • 40 Total participants (short by 6) • 14 males, 26 females • 17 ages 18-29, 15 ages 30-45, 8 ages 46 and 60
  23. 23. Results Group Never Once a month Once a week A few times a week Once a day A few times a day Total Control 5 5 1 5 1 2 19 Test 3 5 2 5 4 2 21 Total 8 10 3 10 5 4 40 “How familiar are you with the university and its campus?” • 6 not at all familiar • 21 either slightly or somewhat familiar • 13 either moderately or extremely familiar “How often do you play games on your computer or smart phone?”
  24. 24. Findings 1. Is there a difference in autonomy, competence, and relatedness in new employees based on their participation in a game-based onboarding activity compared to those who do not participate in a game-based onboarding activity? 2. Is there a difference in the retention of fundamental institutional information based on employee participation in a game-based onboarding activity compared to those who do not participate in a game-based onboarding activity?
  25. 25. Limitations • Individual play – Not everyone enjoys isolated exploration. • Permission to play – Voluntary participation, supervisor permission? • Holidays – A lot of them! 19 days during the study. • Weather – Wet, rainy, cold, yucky. • Natural assimilation
  26. 26. Findings of Interest Types of missions When evaluating the type of missions most frequently completed… Online Missions Physical Missions GPS Missions 162 total or 57% All participants completed at least one 94 total or 33% 76% of participants completed at least one 28 or 10% 33% of participants completed at least one Take away: Online missions are convenient and most “low-hanging fruit”. All were relevant to every employee. However, the physical and GPS missions may not have been relevant to every employee, and were therefore, not completed.
  27. 27. Recommendations Study scavenger hunts used for other purposes. How is the hunt run? What makes it successful? Look at vendor sites.
  28. 28. Recommendations - Pilot Test
  29. 29. Gain Management Support
  30. 30. Have a Party! Make the game an event. • Teams encourage relatedness • Time limits and prizes encourage competition and heightens motivation. • Everyone wins
  31. 31. Be Flexible Always make the game optional. Realize not every gamer will enjoy every type of game and not every learner will enjoy every type of learning. Entertainment Software Association, 2019 Essentials Facts
  32. 32. Success Stories • Depura, K., & Garg, M. (2012). “Application of online gamification to new hire onboarding.” Proceedings from the 2012 Third International Conference on Services in Emerging Markets; 153-156. doi:10.1109/ICSEM.2012.29 • Garris, R., Ahlers, R., & Driskell, J. E. (2002). Games, motivation, and learning: A research and practice model. Simulation & Gaming, 33(4), 441. • Gee, J. P. (2008). Learning and games. In K. Salen (Ed.), The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning (pp. 21-40). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. doi:10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.021 • Laborde Torres, N. A. (2016). Pressing PLAY in organizations: Using video game elements in order to increase overall organizational onboarding effectiveness (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Puerto Rico. • Mildner, P., & Mueller, F. (2016). Design of serious games. In R. Dörner, S. Göbel, M. Kickmeier-Rust, M. Masuch & K. Zweig (Eds.), Entertainment computing and serious games (pp. 57-82) Springer. • Moreno-Ger, P., Burgos, D., & Torrente, J. (2009). Digital games in eLearning environments: Current uses and emerging trends. Simulation & Gaming, 40(5), 669-687. 10.1177/1046878109340294 • Zielinski, D. (2010). Training games: Simulations teach employees under real-life conditions without real- world consequences. HRMagazine, 64-66.
  33. 33. Questions? • What about the Psychological Needs Satisfaction in Game Play Survey? • What do you do for fun with new employees? • Do you use scavenger hunts for any purpose (orientation or otherwise)?

Hinweis der Redaktion

  • Hi! My name is Karen Burns. I live in the great state of Alabama, but I am a native Floridian. I was actually born in Sanford, just a few miles south of here. Currently, I work at The University of Alabama where I am Assistant Coordinator of Faculty Development in the Center of Instructional Technology.

  • However, today I am here to talk with you as a graduate student. I am pursuing my PhD in Instructional Leadership with an emphasis on Instructional Technology. I’m what is called ABD – All But Dissertation. Which means, I’ve finished all my coursework and now I have to write and present a dissertation.

    I never planned to get a PhD. I never thought myself smart enough for it. Nor did I aspire to teach or conduct research for a living. I am not an intellect. I am an average learner. Was in elementary and high school and undergrad.

  • I read a quote earlier this month that said “Academia isn’t just for the smart and the talented. It’s for the curious and passionate individuals who aim to make a difference.” Once I grew up, I desired to learn because of my passions.
    Why a PhD? Well, I had an idea. An idea that I firmly believed in.

  • You see, I firmly believe that people can learn and have fun at the same time! Actually, people learn BETTER when they are having fun. When having fun, you pay attention and engage with whatever it is that they believe to be “fun”. That engagement enables you to receive and retain information you are interacting with. And Games can mediate fun!

  • Years ago, I was tasked with creating an informational website to help new employees in our office get everything done that they needed to effectively start their jobs. Mind you, this was not for ALL departments on campus, just ours. We are part of OIT (the computer tech people).

    Here’s how things went in our department. New employees typically met with the hiring manager on the first day, introduced to coworkers, shown around the office space, you know, the typical stuff. Then they had to meet with the internal HR person to fill out paperwork. His or her office was on a different floor.
    Walk over to the Student Services Center to get their Action Card and then to Parking Services to get their parking pass. They call Teresa to set up a time to get an OIT ID Badge. Get online and set up your information in the directory and sign up for emergency alerts. Dianne can order the business cards. Just call her.
    Go see Lou to get whatever office supplies are needed. She’s in Lloyd Hall. If the person’s computer was not set up in advance, then a support ticket had to be submitted to get an IT person to handle that. Or in some case, the computer had to be ordered. Etc. etc.

    You get the jest. There were a lot of pieces and prior to having a checklist and instructions for each thing, employees learned by asking and being told one piece of information at a time.

    Well, I created the website. It took hours to gather the information and put it in logical order. But it worked. It did the job. And it was BORING! I know, that’s okay sometimes. Sometimes tasks are tasks. Just do it, check it off and move on. But what if….
  • What if the same information could be incorporated as a game?!
    Why not have fun while checking off the list?

    My imagination took off. I envisioned a treasure hunt. (click)

    Each item could become a mission rather than a task. (click)

  • Click into a building, meet people there, click on an item, learn about it, and earn points!
    My idea was nothing new. Vendors, like Bunchball, SilkRoad, and MindTickle, market their gaming platforms to HR and have demos of new employee orientation games on their websites.

    BUT there was one small problem. My department was not going to pay the big bucks to one of these vendors to create a game specific to our area. That just was not feasible.
    What about a game for all of campus? Well, I didn’t work in HR. I had no pull. Hmmm… the idea and the desire to see it to fruition wouldn’t go away. So, recognizing that I work at a research university who values higher education, I decided to pursue the idea on my own through a research project! I would conduct the research and earn my PhD!

  • Well, as you might expect, my original design changed to accommodate a feasible study. But that’s okay. I have still learned a great deal and will still get my PhD once I finish my paper and defend it.

    So today, I am here to present to you what I did for the study and what I have learned thus far.
  • Let’s start by talking about orientation in general from the employee’s perspective.

    New employee orientation can be overwhelming, as a great deal of information has to be covered in a short amount of time. This oftentimes results in employees leaving the orientation and not remembering where to find needed information or how to access all the benefits available to them.

    Orientation sessions may not fully cover everything HR needs to share with employees due to time constraints. Once an orientation session is completed, it is the responsibility of managers and coworkers to guide and develop new employees or, in some cases, it is left up to the new employee to seek out information independently. Independent learning can lead to inconsistent or incorrect information.

    While new employees are generally eager to learn and fit in with their peers, learning a new job and establishing new relationships can be stressful. When under stress, it’s harder to learn and retain information.

  • Quickly, I want to be certain you understand, may not agree, but understand what I mean when I say “onboarding” and “orientation”. These are two different, yet connected, things.

    Most companies distinguish the two by time and content. Onboarding is frequently considered development rather than training as it encompasses all the processes needed to fully advance an individual into a productive, seasoned employee. May begin the day a person is hired and continues 6 months, a year, or even 3 years.

    Orientation is often considered an event and just one of the processes in Onboarding.
  • If you have studied games much at all, you know that there are many definitions of games.

    “A system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that result in a quantifiable outcome" (Salen & Zimmerman, 2003, p. 80).

    “A rule-based system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels emotionally attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are optional and negotiable" (Juul, 2005, p. 6).

    “a problem-solving activity, approached with a playful attitude” (Schell, 2008, p. 37).

    I chose to use Schell’s definition as it best fit the design and intention of my project.
  • Next, we look at what is included in a game.
    Most experts agree that a game consists of a combination of mechanics and dynamics.

    Mechanics are rules, processes, and basic actions that evoke emotion and reaction by the player (Bunchball, 2016).

    Game dynamics are “the types of activities that emerge when players interact with mechanics. Game dynamics can include behaviors from aggressive to passive or traits such as leadership and team building” (Clark et al., 2015, p. 108).
  • When digital games are designed as a means of instruction and not for entertainment, it is called digital game-based learning. It’s no mystery to this audience that games can be used as instructional tools.

    Two common themes for educational games is that games have a motivational power to make learning fun and a belief that learning by doing is a powerful learning tool.

    Anyone else here play Oregon Trail, Reader Rabbit, or Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? All of these fall into the digital game-based learning arena.

    Research has yet to prove that game-based learning is more beneficial than other learning methods, but the draw for games used for learning is their ability to motivate. Games can promote collaborative learning and support cognitive learning strategies.
  • Pervasive games, unlike many other game genres, are not restricted to a single location, a single player, or even a single action. Pervasive mobile games expand traditional computer games utilizing mobile technology in real-world activities to solve tasks. Pokemon Go is a pervasive game using augmented reality and GPS capabilities to catch pokemon.

    Scavenger hunts are a sub-genre of Pervasive games.

    Scavenger hunts have been around for years and years. How many of you have ever been on a scavenger hunt? Paper-based hunts are easy to create and easy to manage. Create a list of things to find and send players out to find them. Often, the items are presented as riddles or hints that point to specific item.

  • A serious game, is “a digital game created with the intention to entertain and to achieve at least one additional goal (e.g., learning or health). These additional goals are named characterizing goals”. For example, exercise games encourage physical fitness and educational games teach. While pedagogy is a part of the design process, designers of serious games focus on the entertainment aspects first and allow the pedagogy to follow.

    “Serious games provide players with a compelling context-relevant storyline, achievable goals, constant feedback on their progress and rewards such as achievement badges and public recognition. They also provide opportunities to fail, learn from their mistakes, and try again in safe environments”. Furthermore, game analytics provide employee performance data useful for evaluation of training impact and employee support.

    Gamification – is best defined as “the use of game elements and design in a non-game context”.
    The purpose of using gamification is to arouse user interest in hopes of making content intrinsically interesting and thereby motivating the user to engage with the material longer than they might have otherwise.
    Gamification is not a complete game, but a game-like experience.
    Seen in airline or credit card points/awards
    Fitbit or Nike fitness apps (award trophies)

    The scavenger hunt in my research project was designed to be a complete game and so considered it to be a serious game. However, one could rightfully argue, that the game was a way of gamifying orientation, so either term is applicable.

  • Turns out, in a research project, having a great idea for a game implementation is not enough. You have to base your idea on a theory!

    I wanted to understand if a digital game can impact new employees as they adapt to their new work culture and environment. At the core of my question was motivation.

    So I based my concept on Self Determination Theory with it’s subtheory of Cognitive Evaluation Theory by Deci & Ryan), because both theories can apply to employees in a work setting as well as players interacting with a game.

    SDT states people are moved to act either through intrinsic or extrinsic motivators.

    CET says that to be intrinsically motivated, three basic psychological needs must be met: Autonomy, relatedness and competence.
    Autonomy – having ownership and control of one’s behaviors
    Relatedness – having connection with others
    Competence – Achieving mastery of success

  • In the workplace, CET has been used to evaluate motivational drivers such as learner interest, confidence, competence in job performance, and relations to coworkers.
    In game play, CET evaluates the game design and the gamers experiences. Advancing in a game instills competence, relying on other players creates relatedness, and choices within the game can create feelings of autonomy.
  • SDT in Work:

    When all three of these basic needs are met in the workplace, employees are more likely to produce high levels of work, display job satisfaction, persistence, a positive attitude, and be psychologically adjusted (Gagne & Deci, 2005).

    SDT in Games:
    Likewise, when all three needs are met in a game, players may persist in game play.
    The commonly held understanding is that a well-designed game provides an environment where the three basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness can generally be achieved.
  • Now that you know my thoughts behind my study, I need your help. With a room full of experts such as this, I want you to make some notes and give me your opinions about what I did right and what I did wrong. My study did not have the successful results I had hoped for, but I think I know why that is. However, I am open to hearing what you have to add.

    My study was conducted at a state university in the Southeast. HR agreed to assist by allowing me to recruit volunteers during the first day of their bi-weekly orientation sessions.
    I included Full-time, First-Time hired staff (no faculty or student employees). And participants had to have an iPhone or Android and be willing to download the game app.
  • I used 3 instruments to gather data.
    Pre-test and Post-test (same questions, different order)
    Psychological Need Satisfaction at Work Scale
    Psychological Need Satisfaction in game play scale

    A demographic and gamer status survey was also used to gather basic information and to place participants into two groups. The “test” group and the “control group”. The test group played a digital scavenger hunt. The Control group did nothing extra. Both groups, it was assumed, learned about their jobs and the campus by interacting with colleagues, exploring independently, looking at websites, or whatever means they found beneficial. There was no way of monitoring what additional methods each group used during the study.
  • I chase Goose Chase for my gaming platform.

    The game included 30 missions: 12 could be completed through online resources, 12 required physical interaction, and 6 required GPS coordinates.

    Each game began at 7:00 am on a Monday and ended 12 days later (a Friday) at 5:00 pm. Participants could interact with the game as often as they liked during this timeframe, however, the game was designed to take no more than three to four hours to complete.

    This game was designed for individual play, however, there were no rules about asking for help or bringing along a colleague on the physical missions.

  • When designing the game, I followed the 6 steps you see here.

    Purpose: The purpose of the game activity was to reinforce information dispersed during the orientation sessions and introduce new information in an engaging manner consistent with the conditions of an instructional serious, pervasive game.

    Goals and Objectives: Therefore, the first step in designing the game was to review HR’s goals and objectives of the orientation sessions and then to develop the goals and learning objectives of the game activity.

    Game Elements: Once that process was complete, I developed missions that focused on the commonly used game design elements of play, rules, challenge, aesthetics, social factors and learning.
    It was also necessary to consider how each mission may or may not contribute to the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

    Timeframe: Several factors were considered before establishing the duration for gameplay. Participants need ample time to complete all the missions and interact with other players yet not have so much time that interest is diminished. The 12-day duration allows for variables such as an employee’s heavy work-load or inclement weather that could adversely affect a participant’s ability to interact with the game.

    Game Review: The game was reviewed by a panel of 4 experts. However, I did not conduct a true pilot test; just a few students and co-workers who casually tested the game and reviewed the missions.
  • This is a screenshot of one of the games to give you an idea of how the interface for the administer appears.
  • These are a few of the missions.
  • The study consisted of three phases:
    Phase I – Participants signed the consent form, completed the demographics and digital game usage survey, and took the pre-test.
    Phase II – Participants in the test group played the game while the control group did not.
    Phase III – Both groups completed a post-test and a Psychological Needs Satisfaction at Work survey. The Test group also completed the Psychological Needs Satisfaction in Game Play survey.
    As an incentive, a $100 Amazon gift card was given away to one participant in each group who completed ALL phases of the study.
  • All dissertations and theses have solid research questions. Mine were:
    Is there a difference in autonomy, competence, and relatedness in new employees based on their participation in a game-based onboarding activity compared to those who do not participate in a game-based onboarding activity?
    Is there a difference in the retention of fundamental institutional information based on employee participation in a game-based onboarding activity compared to those who do not participate in a game-based onboarding activity?
  • I recruited participants from October of 2018 through May 2019. I needed 46 total to answer question 1 and 40 to answer question 2. I was able to get 40 before finally convincing my committee chairs to let me stop recruiting and finish my paper. What that means is, when I give you the results of my study, remember that we are talking about a small sample of people. For question one, the results are valid for empirical research findings, but not for the 2nd question.
  • Participants were divided into the groups based on two questions: Campus familiarity and game play frequency.

    When asked how often do you play games on your computer or smartphone, the majority said either once a month or a few times a week. Overall, I had a good balance in game play frequency among the participants.
  • So what did I find?
    The big question everyone wants to know is…
    Significance
    NO.
    There was no difference in autonomy, competence, and relatedness in new employees based on their participation in a game-based onboarding activity compared to those who do not participate in a game-based onboarding activity.
    And
    NO. There was no difference in the retention of fundamental institutional information based on employee participation in the game-based onboarding activity compared to those who do not participate in the game-based onboarding activity.
  • Why?
    There are a number of reason that perhaps effected the study’s results and I believe it all has to do with the design of the study.

    Individual play
    Primarily, the hunt I designed, for individual play, is one that may be “interesting” or “intriguing”, but not everyone is motivated to play a game such as this independently. Scavenger hunts are most often played in teams.

    Permission to play
    The game was voluntary and employees may have not felt they could ask for time away from their desk or duties to go play a game!

    Holidays
    The university closed 19 days during the study. All participants still received the same amount of time to complete each phase, but the interruptions of the normal work days may have caused a distraction.

    Weather
    The recruitment period, mid-October through April, experienced many wet and cold days, which may have discouraged game-play for the physical missions.
    Natural assimilation
    There is a certain amount of causal effect to be considered. Employees continued to learn and assimilate into the campus community over the 4-week study period. Not everything they learned was through my study, so it is hard to determine what knowledge was learned through the game and what knowledge was gained through cultural assimilation.
  • I evaluated all the missions completed and found that all participants completed at least one of the text-based online missions. They are easy and can be accomplished as part of just exploring the game. Some of the items didn’t require looking up if you already knew the answer! They were easy wins or low-hanging fruit.
    However, the missions that required physical movement, including GPS location missions, may not have been relevant to every employee, and were therefore, not completed.
  • Visit website of game vendors and study their recommendations for having a successful hunt. Find other companies or schools who have used a digital hunt and find out what made their hunt successful.
    These are the vendors I looked at when deciding which one to use for my study. GooseChase is the company I used.
  • In future research, qualitative data would provide much more information. Pilot test and use Focus groups after the game play. This may give different perspectives on the game which will allow the game designers to make adjustments to improve it.
  • Gain management buy- in! Without their support and encouragement, participation may be low.

  • Make the game part of an event.
    Now, if HR decided to make the hunt an EVENT in which all new employees were invited to participate in, then perhaps the “fun” element would come in. Hunts should be played in teams, or at least, in pairs. This instantly adds the relatedness factor as employees interact with each other. As an event, meaning a planned start and stop time, location as a home-base, and a celebration for the winners, adds the competitive factor. Incentives will appeal to the extrinsic motivation side of people.

    Everyone wins – If a game is played individually or in pairs, give rewards to everyone who completes the game. It can be a t-shirt, a mug, whatever you think your employees will value. It always amazes me to see what people will do to win a prize!


  • Remember, that a game must be optional. Never make it required or then you run a high risk of losing the fun factor.
    Realize not every gamer will enjoy every type of game and not every learner will enjoy every type of learning. BUT a well designed serious game can entice people to play.

  • These are a few resources that provide case studies of empirical research for games for learning. Only the first one discusses games for onboarding. I was unable to find a published paper on the actual data, though, just the conference proceedings.

  • You noticed I did not talk about my findings for the Psychological Needs Satisfaction in Game Play survey. I have not yet studied the data since I did not ask a question directly related to it. I’ll save that data for future analysis.

    Now…. Questions?

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