Quest-based Learning

Perceval and the quest for the Grail
Quest-based learning (QBL) is an instructional theory that uses elements of game design and learning communities to support student choice while still operating within the context of a standards-based curriculum.

Many educators and many schools at all levels are uncomfortable moving away from a top-down approach to information acquisition. So, QBL may bee seen as moving out of many comfort zones.

Some game-based feedback tools - not games - like experience points, progress bars, badges, and achievements are motivating and meaningful to students.

Rather than design courses via textbook learning and lectures, QBL classes require students to select quests and progress at their own pace through a series of educational activities. This may remind educators of project-based learning or problem-based learning, but the unique element is the self-selection part of the design.

Quests are often online learning activities that address the core of the subject matter. These might be an audio podcast, a short video or collaborating online with classmates in discussion or composing.

For me, the most important thing is not putting the quest-based learning label on the pedagogy, but the inclusion of the QBL elements in course design.

In a white paper by Chris Haskell (Boise State University), he explains that QBL lesson design "focuses on an individualized and flexible curricular experience. In QBL, students can select activities, called quests, rather than assignments in a fixed linear order. Students leverage choice to promote engagement rather than waiting for a due date.”

Hands might be raised immediately to question how autonomy over what and when to learn would have any effect on academic achievement. Haskell and a colleague implemented an experimental QBL curriculum with pre-service teacher candidates in 2010 and they found “93% of students using this approach reached the winning condition, described as receiving a course grade of ‘A’ . . . the average completion time was reduced from 16 weeks to 12 ½ weeks with one student completing [the course] in just four.”

It's interesting that this experiment started in higher ed and is being moved down to K-12, since much innovation in teaching and pedagogy moves up from the lower grade levels.

Will this quest lead to a holy grail for teaching? No. there is no grail. It's all in the journey.

This post also appears at Serendipity35

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