Thursday, August 2, 10:30-11:00, SUB Room 233, Theme: Students

The challenge in many rural communities is less on students failing to graduate from high school but in the number of students who pursue some form of post-secondary education, despite the well-documented wage premium of college graduates compared to those with a high school diploma (Mayhew, et al., 2016). In a recent article, a student from rural Iowa summed up the post-secondary pursuits of his peers, “There’s just no motivation to go” (Markus & Krupnick, 2017). This student’s insight is bore out by a host of research studies using state and US national data (Irvin, et al., 2012). Students from rural areas, many of whom feel pressure to maintain the family farm or ranch, are reluctant to leave their communities. They may experience conflicting messages regarding the value of continuing their education (Byun, et al., 2012) and/or feel lost in the academic jargon inherent in the application and admission process (Ardoin, 2013). Researchers found Montana high school students have a host of questions and concerns regarding the post-secondary transition, spanning from paying for college to making new friends (Oliveri, Funke, Clark, & Seifert, 2018).

In an effort to respond to students’ questions and address their concerns, Dr. Seifert and her team have developed a college transition board game that simulates the first semester of college. Through game play, high school students develop their “college knowledge” by learning time management, the people and programs that exist to support their success in their first year, and the norms and values of college (often referred to as the “hidden curriculum”). Gaming the first year of college draws on the power of gaming for educational purposes. Rather than telling students what they need to know, students play. They fail. They play again, learn and advance in the game. For those who game, this is the process of “leveling up.” The college transition board game prepares high school students to make a more seamless transition because they are not experiencing common first year of college situations for the first time when the consequences are real. They have confronted these situations and learned first in a game setting, where they can test out different decisions and see the results. This session will introduce attendees to the board game and share feedback gleaned from play testing with high school students in 13 rural Montana communities.