In my previous post I talked about three gamification principles teachers should keep in mind if they want to create a gamified learning environment for their young students. These principles are: (1) include rewards, (2) craft levels of progress and (3) offer instant feedback to kids when they learn by playing.
But I must admit I put the cart before the horse with that post. Before following guidelines on how to create a gamified learning environment in the classroom one must have one question answered: Why? Such a simple yet complicated question. Why would teachers include gamification in their instruction in the first place?
Well, gamification is a tried and tested technique that can have a positive impact on students’ learning. Most people that adopt gamification in learning activities witness two things: students get a better attitude towards learning and they are more motivated to move along their learning path to get the final reward: recognition for their mastery of skills.
The benefits gamification can bring to the classroom
By correctly implementing gamification principles when designing classroom activities for primary school students, one can improve their attitude towards learning and keep them motivated. And who doesn’t want motivated kids who are eager to learn?
Improved attitude towards learning
If learning suddenly becomes a fun activity instead of a serious one, kids will put their minds to work, no matter how hard they find the learning process to be. The secret behind this attitude is the complete lack of fear students get when in a gamified learning environment.
Fear of failure is a negative byproduct of our educational system as it is. Taking risks without thinking about consequences is one thing. Assuming those consequences and still taking the risk is another. This can be the best way to learn. Making mistakes is a huge part of learning. But most kids are afraid to make the smallest mistake, for fear of being judged by others — teachers, peers, parents, friends, the rest of the people they know.
In a learning environment embracing gamification FEAR becomes just a First Attempt in Learning. When they are no longer afraid of making mistakes, kids just go ahead and try any idea in their learning journey. Thanks to the instant feedback they’ll get, they’ll realize if they did well or not. And if they didn’t, they’ll try again. Some of their ideas will prove to be efficient inevitably.
Keep students motivated to learn
Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when a student just wants to be better at something than they were some time ago. This personal satisfaction keeps them on the tracks to higher grades. Extrinsic motivation is when the opinion of others comes into the matrix. For example, this happens when a student wants to be better at something because they want to impress their parents or their teacher, or they simply want to be better than their peers.
But for both types of motivation there’s one kind of fuel: acknowledgement. It’s not enough to gain mastery of a certain skill; one needs the recognition of others. Through various types of rewards, gamification helps students achieve mastery (gain points, collect badges, go to an advanced level) and get the social recognition they need (be on the leaderboard, get the trophy).
Since these rewards don’t come just at the end of the year, but on every little step on their learning journey, and they are based on a student’s individual performance, kids will find it easier to keep and nurture their motivation towards learning.
So, when students consider learning fun and they associate positive thoughts with classroom learning activities, it's easier for everyone to do their job: teachers to teach and students to learn. Gamification can do wonders in a primary school classroom.
But while theory is always great, it can become a headache when applied. How can teachers create a gamified learning experience for their students? Besides applying the gamification principles I mentioned, how can these benefits be achieved?
Well, Keep an eye on the K-20 Blog, as the next post will be about a few tips on how to gamify a classroom.
FREE Resource: How to make learning engaging with gamification