Motivation and Leaderboards

After a little more reading about leaderboards, particularly this article by¬†Scott Nicholson, I’m beginning to worry that while they motivate the students in the upper part of the class, they tend to discourage students in the lower part of the class. Frankly, that was discouraging to read. In my experience, students in the upper half of the class don’t need much additional motivation to succeed. 80% of the reason I wanted to try some gamification techniques was to see about increasing the success rate for the rest of the class.

I do understand that there will be some students who are motivated by the leaderboards who might not have been as motivated otherwise. That is a good thing. I’m just worried about the students who are not at the top of the leaderboard being discouraged.

In an effort not to throw the baby out with the bath water, this is my plan. I want a new, meta leaderboard. Not one that aggregates all of the other leaderboards, but one that consolidates all of the change in position across the boards. My thinking is that the top of the board will be relatively static, but in the lower half there will be lots of room for people to exchange positions. I don’t have any data on that. It’s just a gut feeling.

I’m also wondering if I should include all of the change in position information (net change) or just the positive change. My initial thought was to do net change in positions, but if I’m really just trying to encourage everyone to try to do better, maybe positive movement is all that I need to record.

Of course, the real question is how hard is it going to be to get this data.