Educators are constantly experimenting with new ways to engage students. Teaching has moved well past the model of delivering slabs of information to a static classroom or lecture theatre, with group discussion and student-led collaboration actively encouraged to stimulate new ideas and promote critical thinking.
One approach that has gained traction in recent years is the concept of gamification – applying game design elements in a non-game context. For example, awarding badges or achievements to students for completing tasks, similar to the way a player on a gaming console does.
As a concept, gamification has been around for a few years (it was popularised in 2010) but only recently has it been applied in academic circles. While there hasn’t been a huge amount of formal study conducted on gamification in Australia, initial surveys have returned positive results.
So, when you break it down, what is it about gamification that benefits students?
It boosts enjoyment
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the part of the brain responsible for pleasure, is released when we play games. This not only stimulates enjoyment of problem solving but helps build a positive attitude towards the subject that has been gamified.
School-aged children in 2018, even those about to complete Year 12, have grown up in an era of next generation gaming consoles and iPhone updates. Playing these types of games is second nature to so many students, which means the transition to gamified education is a relatively smooth one.
It provides instant feedback
Gamification is a unique teaching technique because it can give immediate feedback to students. This is especially useful as it allows the identification of weaknesses, which in turn lets teachers tailor to the individual needs of different students.
It can be applied outside of the classroom
Gamification isn’t limited to the hours between nine and three. Parents can adopt an approach to gamify homework and studying, which not only leads to enhanced student engagement but allows you to become more involved in your child’s learning.