Make Learning More Fun with Gamification

4 min to read
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Does your student struggle to stay consistently engaged with their lessons, homework, chores, or extracurriculars? What they may need is gamification. Here’s what gamification is, why gamification works, and practical steps to add gamification to your student’s life.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is applying game principles and game-design elements, such as point keeping and receiving points or awards, to non-game experiences. Its goal is to infuse a sense of competition into everyday tasks.

There is a difference between gamification and game-based learning. Game-based learning makes games an inherent part of the learning process. Students learn knowledge and skills from playing games specifically made to teach those elements. The game is frequently the star of the show. In contrast, gamification uses game elements in non-game contexts.

Where Does Gamification in Learning Come From?

Gamification in education dates back to the 19th century with Dmitri Mendeleev—the scientist credited with publishing the periodic table of elements. Interestingly, Mendeleev struggled as a student, so to make learning more exciting and interesting he used aspects of card games in his education and work.

A student wearing a mustard color sweater using a laptop to research about gamification.

Why Gamification Works for Students

Gamification in school works for students because:

It increases engagement.

One of the reasons some students lose their enthusiasm and motivation to do schoolwork, chores, and extracurriculars is because they don’t feel engaged with those activities. Gamification makes tasks feel interactive, thereby increasing students’ attention spans and engagement with material and reducing possible tendencies toward procrastination.

It gives students milestones and rewards.

Students become motivated to complete tasks when they understand why they are doing them and why they are important.  For these responsibilities, students may need a milestone to reach or a reward to push them to the finish line. Gamification does exactly that.

It increases knowledge retention.

Neuroscience research finds that gamification activates the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for recall and memory. So, gamification can help students remember new information and commit it to their long-term memories.

It encourages endorphin release.

Gamification encourages endorphin release in learners. So, adding gamification to schoolwork could help students to reduce negative feelings associated with the work.

It gives students an opportunity to reflect.

With gamification, students can see the big picture of their academic progress. They can see how many points, badges, or rewards they’ve earned for their efforts. Gamification takes academic progress and makes it tangible for students.

How to Incorporate Gamification

There are several ways in which you can add gamification to your student’s schoolwork or chores.

1. Identify challenges.

Challenges include what tasks students must complete. For example, the challenge may be reading a chapter of a book every day for two weeks.

2. Install a point system.

Have different tasks earn different points. Points function as ways for students to visualize their progress. A point system also encourages them to keep working.

3. Have the points add up to a reward.

The reward can be a small trinket or a break from work. But another fun way points can be rewarded is through a badge system. Badges acknowledge the student’s efforts and keep students motivated to earn the next badge. Badges show students that they are “leveling up” in their schoolwork or tasks.

4. Add a narrative.

One strategy to add gamification in school is to frame schoolwork in terms of a quest. Students must complete quests (i.e., schoolwork, homework, chores, etc.) to progress in the story, like remembering to finish their chores for a week to slay a dragon or studying for a test to rescue a village. Add visuals, if necessary, on a poster board as they keep track of their progress to immerse your student in the story and get them excited about their quest.

5. Get creative.

What interests your student? What are they passionate about? Do they have a favorite book, movie, or game? Use your student’s interests to create your point and reward system.

For example, if they are passionate about animals, then they can accrue points for doing schoolwork and chores and be rewarded with an animal sticker when they hit a certain number of points. Eventually, they’ll see the fruits of their labor by looking at how many animal stickers they have.

An online school student wearing a white shirt smiling at a computer seeing her learning progress brought to life through gamification in school.

Gamification motivates students to tackle tasks and to finish work that they may find boring or unengaging. It also aids students in remembering and recalling knowledge. Gamification in school can also create a positive experience for students and help them to associate education with fun, and it’s easy to customize gamification elements to your student’s unique interests.

Give it a try and have fun with it!

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