No ordinary quest: Students game for deeper learning

By Wendy Chan posted on November 17th, 2016

As an associate professor of applied biology at UBC, Maja Krzic knows there’s much more to soil science than what students will typically pick up in lectures and labs. Recognized as an expert in soil sciences with numerous teaching awards to her credit — not to mention an internationally recognized compendium of open-source courses and educational resources in soil sciences — one might assume Krzic’s approach would be that of a traditional ‘sage on the stage’ academic. But Krzic believes in hands-on learning and knows she can push students towards a whole new level of learning by getting them out into the fresh air and looking at the forest and soil in a natural setting.

In her never-ending quest to make her classes memorable, Krzic has brought real-world learning to her students. Supported by a UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) grant, Krzic teamed up with Richmond, BC-based mobile app developer 14 Oranges Software Inc., UBC Studios and graduate students to create the in-the-field gaming quest, Forest Humus Forms Quest, on the Questogo app. Using the GPS on their iPhones, the app dispatches students to find different types of soil and plants in the forest and has them answer questions as they go exploring. “We are basically guiding students through the steps a professional scientist goes through when he or she does these observational tasks in real life,” says Krzic. As a result, students retain the information better by having completed the real-world, hands-on observational investigation.

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