AUC lecturer Dora Achourioti was recently announced as one of the recipients of a prestigious Comenius Teaching Fellowship for her project “Building a Learning Path using Minecraft”. The project creatively encourages student input and ownership of their learning process for the course "Logic, Information, Argumentation" through the use of Minecraft: Education Edition. The project will take place over the course of 2022.
The Comenius Teaching Fellowships are an initiative of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) that looks to support professionals in higher education who want to implement innovative educational methods or techniques in their classrooms. The proposed projects should fall under one of three set themes ('The first one hundred days of the student', 'Working on societal issues', 'Successful graduation') or an open theme that contributes toward the strategic agenda set by the NWO.
The submitted proposals are judged based on the innovative nature of the project, expected result, quality of the project plan and the experience of the applicant. Accepted proposals then take place over the course of one year and are granted a budget of EUR 45,000 – 50,000. The Fellow is responsible for the preparation, implementation and follow-up on the result of the project.
Dora Achourioti's project "Building a Learning Path using Minecraft" falls under the theme of "The first one hundred days of the student." In most undergraduate programmes, skills courses are an important part of year curricula. One such course taught at Amsterdam University College, which is also coordinated by Dora Achourioti, is ‘Logic, Information, Argumentation’ (LIA). The course serves as an introduction to logic, argumentation and critical thinking from an interdisciplinary perspective.
LIA is one of the pillars of AUC's Liberal Arts and Sciences education and is a required course for all first-year students. However, the simple fact that LIA is a compulsory subject causes some students to lose interest, which can have negative impacts on their academic engagement.
In her project, Achourioti seeks to address this problem by better connecting with the intrinsic motivation of AUC students. Her proposal is to develop a digital environment inside the Minecraft: Education Edition of the online video game Minecraft where students are invited to 'build' their own learning path through the course. In other words, students become the 'owners' and 'designers' of their learning process. In this online environment, students are offered choices on how to perform certain tasks (in the form of missions) and even allowed to create their own tasks.
In this way, the project hopes to strengthen the intrinsic motivation of students and to give back ownership, agency and a sense of control of the learning process. Achourioti and her team expect that by having this intervention take place in the first year of studies at AUC, it will ultimately help increase student engagement and their success in the study programme at large.