May 16, 2018
Rinat Levy-Cohen

The Secret Behind Gamification


Gamification has been ardently adopted into many pieces of educational software and classrooms as an innovative teaching practice. It is a method of using game thinking, mechanics, and aesthetics, to engage, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems. Gamification focuses on motivating students to sustain their engagement throughout the learning process. And we have seen how it makes students do extraordinary things when implemented properly!

Gamification is all about motivation

Intrinsic motivation is at the core of gamified instruction. When students are intrinsically motivated they are emotionally invested in the learning. They engage in educational activities because they, for instance, feel challenged. They don’t need to be motivated by others to engage in the activity; they do it for themselves. It is the ideal form of motivation - autonomous motivation!

Gamification works on students’ psychology

Gamified instruction aims to satisfy learners’ three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Gamified instruction allows students to direct their own learning. They are given the option to choose how to proceed through challenges in order to achieve their goals. In terms of competence, gamification fulfills students’ need to feel that they are capable and are improving in something that matters. To satisfy students' sense of value, gamified pedagogy sets to promote interactivity by designing shared experiences and common goals for students.

Here are some tips to gamify classroom instruction    

  • Create challenges that can be solved in more than one way. This will likely promote intrinsic motivation. But don’t present students with endless options - pick activities that are meaningful and valuable to students.
  • While playing games, players can see their progress. In class, provide ongoing positive feedback about students’ progress through formative assessment and avoid negative feedback.
  • Include interactivity in your curriculum. Even just giving students the impression that they are working together and collaborating fulfills their need for relatedness.
  • There is a story behind every game. Try to build a story around the content you are teaching. It can be as simple as a scenario but it should have an emotional pull that brings your students along.

Want to know more about gamification? DigitalJLearning's professional development workshop on June 5th will focus on how to design gamified instruction!

Rinat Levy-Cohen is an educational consultant for The Jewish Education Project where she plans and facilitates professional development for teachers.

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