Teaching with Tools of Engagement: Polls, Gamification, Badges, Leaderboards, Ohmage & Participatory Sensing


  • Rose Rocchio, Director of IT, UCLA
  • Rob Gould, Professor, UCLA

Web resources:

The classroom landscape is changing!  Technology can be leveraged in many different ways…about 80% of students have smart phones.  Engagement tools are really permeating the marketplace due to the ubiquity of mobile devices.  Today we’re going to look at ways some technological tools are impacting classroom engagement and provide a couple demonstrations of projects that are being done by UCLA and UC Berkeley.

When Analytics Meet Gamification:  The Pedagogy

Gamification provides reciprocal validation.  There is a content “gallery” that is used to share a collection of images for a course.  There is a points configuration tool for instructors that provides a way to assign points for adding to this gallery, i.e. (give a comment=5 points, get a comment=3 points, give a +1=1 point, etc.).  These points are aggregated into a leaderboard.  Professors provide weekly “missions” for students to complete, i.e. a lesson plan.


  • No correlation between total Engagement Index and final exam
  • No correlation between mission points and final exam
  • Strong correlation between mission completion and final exam

Rob Gould:  Our Collaboration with LAUSD

  • Using mobile app for engagement in the LAUSD
  • Part of NSF umbrella project called “Mobilize”
  • Partnership between several UCLA departments (statistics, CS, Center X, Graduate School of Education and INformation Science and LAUSD
  • Create and implement data science curricula in high school to enhance STEM learning


  • Exploring CS (3 week unit)
  • Algebra 1 (3 2-week units)
  • Biology (3 week unit)
  • Introduction to data science:  year-long course

The Introduction to Data Science created an alternative pathway through high school mathematics.

  • Traditional:  Algebra 1 > Geometry > Algebra 2 > PreCalculus
  • Alternative:  Algebra1 > CS/Geometry > IDS > Statistics

Introduction to Data Science

  • Professional Data
  • “Big data” > I prefer “Everyday data”

This creates a bridge of “participatory sensing” leading to statistical and computational thinking.  This idea is gradually gaining traction, because student can now collect data everywhere they go with their mobile devices.

Some PS Campaigns

  • Measuring snacks:  measure what you’re eating (cost, when, who you were with, how did you feel when you were eating it, etc.)
  • Stress / chill moments:  measure how you feel at certain points of the day
  • Design their own

A dashboard view provides students with additional visibility about the data that they’re collecting.