Addicted to…learning?! Gamification of the classroom

We all know that many of our students are literally addicted to video games. But can the same brain processes that compel gamers to skip meals and play video games long into the night be harnessed by teachers to increase their students’ motivation, attention, class participation, and even reverse negativity felt towards school to reignite the joy of learning?

As Dr. Judy Willis writes in her blog post ‘Motivating Learning: Neuroscience Insights from Video Game Model & Drug Addiction to Inspire Children’s Learning Perseverance and Success’ the answer is YES!

In her post, Dr. Willis asserts that the popularity of video games is not the enemy of learning, but rather should be used as a model for learning within the classroom. Here’s why:

  1. Games insert players at their achievable challenge level, providing truly differentiated content.
  2. Players must complete increasingly challenging tasks to earn progression.
  3. Players earn instant rewards for effort and practice, resulting in increased motivation.
  4. Incremental goal progress is recognized, not just the final product.
  5. Games provide immediate, intrinsic, corrective rewards at frequent intervals.
  6. Games give hints, cues, and other feedback so players’ brains have enough expectation of reward to persevere.

When classroom instruction and practice mirror a learning experience that is as compelling as those found in video games, children persevere when there is new information to be learned and practiced. It is only when the brain perceives a reasonable possibility of success for achieving a desirable goal that it invests the effort to work through a challenge. To truly engage all learners, teachers must create a classroom environment that mimics that of video games – “just right” level of challenge, instant and continuous feedback and rewards, and tasks worth completing as part of a broader goal.

Looking to boost your classroom fun factor? Check out our collection of top-rated STEM career games here!

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