E-REACKT: the European project aiming to stimulate your students’ motivation and avoid dropout

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For a few years now, BBA INSEEC has been working alongside several other partners such as UCL, UPV/EHU, Lab University of Applied Sciences, H&N services and O&D from INSEEC U. on a European project called E-REACKT.

E-REACKT stands for E-learning Revision Activity and Collaborative Knowledge Teaching. The aim is to reduce as much as possible the number of dropouts during the first cycle of higher education through different methods. With a diversity of content, the development of healthier study habits and a better follow up from teachers, we strongly believe students can feel more motivated to keep on studying and succeed.

To meet our expectations, we created a web app called Academ’Quiz. In a few words, teachers create quizzes with questions, answers and pedagogical notes about a topic of their choice. Then, students connect on Academ’Quiz and start to play. It is easing their way until graduation!

It presents many advantages for students and teachers.

Boring revision can be stemming from a lack of diversity in the content. Academ’Quiz tackles this potential issue through three different playing modes and diversity of questions. Students can play with three different modes: white mode (solo without any timer); red mode (solo with a timer); duel mode (compete against their friends). For each quiz played, the student wins some points. Whatever the playing mode, students can find different kinds of questions in the game. Teachers and students can create questions with text only but they can add questions with a picture or audio file as well. For each question, the player has to choose the right answer among four possible answers: when creating questions, students and teachers sometimes add some fun with totally out-of-the-box wrong answers. If revising can feel like a serious business for some of us, some fun cannot hurt! On the contrary, it can help to defuse some stress…!

Moreover, using Academ’Quiz over a semester can help students organise their revisions more easily and with less pain. On the one hand, few students, especially in the first cycles of higher education, manage to plan short revision periods to avoid saturation. Enrolling them in an Academ’Quiz game session allows them to revise in small sessions, throughout the day, at “lost” times (while waiting for the bus, between two lessons, while having a coffee, etc). On the other hand, after the planned revision session, the student can do a white solo on the course he has just revised. This can reassure them about their level, put them in a situation to answer questions about what they have just learned, allows them to identify the chapters of the course on which they still have some difficulties. If they embark on a red solo or a duel, they may be asked questions about their other courses, thus facilitating the transition to revising another subject.

During their review cycles, students tend to compartmentalize their courses: “I will start by reviewing marketing and when I’m done, I will move on to finance”. This planning, in itself, is reassuring, provides a framework, but it is also stressful if the student is falling behind or is feeling overwhelmed by the number of other courses to review. If they introduce a few games into Academ’Quiz in their schedule, they will still have the impression that they are still starting to revise, without pressure, the other courses. As the result, they will manage their stress better.

Scheduling a game session at the start of the semester can also help students to organise themselves: start with a few games, review only the chapters in which they detect weaknesses then intensify their revisions, with or without Academ’Quiz, at the end of the semester before the exams. Students, especially the more academic ones, find it difficult to take breaks during their weeks of intense revision. Offering a tool allowing them to work without being aware of it, or to revise in another way, to break the rhythm of revisions without leaving it, to space it, can help reassure them and avoid burnout at the end of the semester.   

Finally, when a question is created by a teacher or a student in Academ’Quiz, a level of difficulty is associated with the new question: beginner, intermediate, expert. You can create courses for different study levels: for instance, first-year students will have a course with beginner questions only. On the contrary, you can create a course with a mix of levels: students can always be challenged by more questions that are difficult without having the feeling to systematically fail, being able to answer less challenging questions. This way, give a break to your students and give them confidence progress perspective.

As far as teachers are concerned, their advantages are mainly concentrated in the back office. For each student of the selected game session, teachers can see a certain amount of data such as the number of connexions, the time spent in the game session, the number of white and red solos and duels. These indicators are dynamic and illustrate the progress of the student. Thus, visual indicators (coloured arrows) illustrate the progress of the student (for example, plays less or has regressed on a subject) during the game session. Better still, the teacher can refine the analysis: it is possible to configure the game period on the session that we want to analyse to know on which period of the session the student dropped out. It is also possible to sort the results of the students by last name, first name, by indicator (ascending or descending). All these results can also be exported as an Excel file.

A teacher can see quickly and interact with the student during your next class or contact them to discuss it and set up some help. The success rates of a student in your subject are much lower than your colleagues’, you may need to contact your colleagues and the student to discuss it. Finally, if it is possible to set up game sessions around the same academic theme (for example, as part of a language course, create a game session with a vocabulary course, a grammar course, a course in listening comprehension, etc.), it is also possible to create multidisciplinary game sessions. It requires more coordination between colleagues, but the game is worth the effort! Indeed, in a multidisciplinary session, you will have the opportunity to identify the cases of students in partial or relative failure (excellent in certain subjects, in total loss in others), but you will also be able to play on the motivation of these students. Even if the results are not there in certain subjects, the students will have the feeling that they are catching up on others, and will be able to identify more easily their strengths and weaknesses in their university program. They can then adapt their learning strategy with Academ’Quiz, like playing more white solos on the courses where their results are low.

BBA INSEEC students have been using it for two years now, and they enjoy themselves through the different modes. Even in a worldwide pandemic, studying from home, their academic results have shown a great improvement thanks to Academ’Quiz. Fond of our work, we would be glad to present it to a targeted public of potential users: students, teachers and deans.

About the author: Frederique Channac is a professor of International Relations and Research Methodology at BBA INSEEC, a Business School in Bordeaux, France. After a first beta version of Academ’Quiz with her school and INSEEC U., as her students enjoyed the experience, she wanted to share it with other higher education institutions: thus the Erasmus+ partnership projet E-REACKT, that aimed at developing the app and its content and to open a free version for any student to use.

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