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Syracuse U Uses Gamification To Encourage Student Development

The Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University has launched a new program this fall, called the Goodman Impress program, that lets students earn points for taking part in career-building extracurricular activities.

Students are sorted into four "houses" or teams, named Adams, Harrison, Marshall and Waverly, and each house has a designated faculty member who serves as a house master. When students attend a leadership workshop or earn an industry certification, for example, they earn points for themselves and their team. The house with the most points at the end of the year wins the Goodman Cup.

The program is modeled after the Harry Potter series, which featured four student houses competing for a cup based on the achievements of the individual members. The Impress program adopts the Harry Potter model to encourage students to develop personal and professional skills beyond academics, and students must earn a minimum number of individual points to graduate.

"Focusing particularly on soft skills and extracurricular experiences, our goal was to develop a program that would ensure our undergraduates leave Whitman with a sustainable competitive advantage throughout their lives and careers," said Amanda Nicholson, associate dean and professor of practice at Whitman School, in a prepared statement.

Students can earn points for activities centered around five learning objectives:

  • Personal and professional leadership development;
  • Major and industry exploration;
  • Certifications;
  • Global context; and
  • Community engagement.

Students can track their points on a smartphone app and receive text messages about opportunities to earn points. They can also interact with their house mates through a Facebook group.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at

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