Student engagement is critical for academic success. However, engaging students can be a challenge for educators. Gamification is not a new concept, but it is increasingly being used in education. It helps to promote motivation and engagement. Educators are using it in various educational settings, from primary school classrooms through to college classes. Here’s how gamification can improve educational outcomes.
What is gamification in education?
Gamification is using the principles and design elements from games in other contexts, such as education. Many students enjoy playing virtual games. They understand the principles involved and how they work. Translating game-like mechanisms into classrooms offers various benefits.
- Optimizes learning
- Increases knowledge retention
- Influences behavior in a positive way
- Increases socialization and a sense of community
A good example of gamification in learning is the Duolingo app. It uses various principles from gaming to help them learn new languages – points, leaderboards, leagues, badges and virtual currencies.
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How does gamification increase learning engagement?
Psychology is the key to how gamification works. The human brain likes challenges and competition. Gamification leverages the natural instinct to want to overcome challenges and win. Competition and rewards trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, which can make learning more enjoyable. A game-like atmosphere can be favorable for students studying in a classroom setting and can increase productivity.
Gamification creates challenges and tracks the progress of students as they learn. As they master the material, they receive recognition for their achievements. Facing challenges and overcoming them can help to build their confidence. They will slowly progress in more challenging lessons as they master easier ones.
Human beings learn from their mistakes. Gamification tools make students want to persist. They learn from what didn’t work, and their next attempt is better. Through a process of trial and error, they progress through stages of increasing difficulty.
Gives immediate feedback and reinforcement
Students can see tangible results and get constant feedback. This helps to reinforce what they learn. Wrong answers are corrected, and the right answers receive rewards. They don’t have to wait to find out how well they are doing. They know immediately if they are on the right track or not.
Offering recognition via rewards
Gamification offers recognition via rewards. Students have a purpose, whether it’s to earn points or go from an easy stage to a more challenging one.
- Leaderboards can give them a sense of achievement over time. They can reflect the personalities of individual students with names, images and catchphrases.
- They can also earn badges or points. Badges could be used to create “subject matter experts.” Students who otherwise would not engage may participate to earn badges and get recognition.
- Educators could use virtual currency to reward students for completing specific tasks. Students have to see this virtual currency as something of value for this to work.
Students can be part of the process and have input in creating rewards. This will make them have more ownership over the whole process. Their ideas can improve the process.
What to consider when using gamification in the classroom
- Some students will embrace gamification tools, while others may not be so enthusiastic about them. An individual student’s specific learning needs will impact how successful these tools are for them.
- Using traditional instruction and gamified learning together often helps students to absorb and retain information better than just using one approach.
- Combining skills-based learning with game mechanics can help students quickly develop the skills they need to be competitive in today’s job market.
- Leveraging technology can help to power new forms of gamification in the classroom. This can make it increasingly sophisticated and offer constant validation.
Gamification has a number of benefits in the classroom. It creates more student engagement and improves knowledge retention. Students benefit from immediate feedback and receive rewards as they progress. This makes learning more fun for them, and they become active agents in the learning process.
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