5 reasons to use gamification in the classroom

Gamification often gets lumped in with game-based learning, but the two are very different. If you’ve only used games like Oregon Trail or Minecraft, then you probably haven’t explored the potential of gamification in the classroom.

Our #ClasscraftChat with @CarinaHilbert (Carina Hilbert, a Spanish and TESOL teacher from Michigan) on Twitter was a great primer to gamification in the classroom. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

What is gamification?

While game-based learning (such as using Minecraft to teach math) is leveraging games to teach and deepen understanding of curriculum, gamification focuses on applying the principles of games to non-game situations, such as the classroom as a whole.

Gamification (such as Classcraft) involves extrinsic and intrinsic risks and rewards that work to encourage both academics, behavior, and non-cognitive skills, including collaboration and engagement.

1. Gamification can promote teamwork

When you group students into teams, they’ll collaborate to earn rewards. This works best when actions that help teammates also help further their individual progress, too.

For example: In Classcraft, which combines both digital “in-game” and real-life classroom components, students can help out their teammates to gain Experience Points (XP), which enable them to learn new in-game powers that benefit students personally or academically.

This means students will start to support each other and communicate so they can succeed. The more they help the group, the more they advance themselves.

Students Raising Hand

2. Gamification can facilitate discipline

With gamification, the class rules become clearer, and students will even start to self-police each other to increase their chances of avoiding risks and earning more rewards.

In Classcraft, this happens when a student loses all their Health Points (HP) for negative behavior and falls in battle. This causes the rest of their team to take damage, or lose HP as well. Because this is such an undesirable risk, students begin to assume accountability for their own actions as well as their classmates’. If a student is frequently tardy and this hurts the team, their teammates will step in and encourage that student to arrive on time.

This takes pressure off the teacher as the “disciplinarian” and fosters responsibility among students themselves.

3. Gamification offers more freedom

While game-based learning rewards students purely for their understanding of concepts, gamification lets you award points to students for anything you want to encourage (or remove points to discourage actions and behaviors).

In Classcraft, you could award XP when students complete homework, perform well on tests or quizzes, or complete a lesson activity online. You could also reward them for participating, being positive, or showing good leadership during group activity. Whatever you choose!

4. Gamification leads to better results in the long-term

Consistency is key when introducing any new tool or method into your classroom, and it’s no different with gamification. Getting the best results means using it regularly over the long-term.

With Classcraft, that means using it every day and following the same routine and rules. Starting each day with a random event sets the tone for the class, and rewarding and removing points consistently helps to integrate gamification into normal class experience and reinforce the positive patterns it creates. The behaviors that you’ll see from using gamification in the classroom will last throughout the school year.

5. Gamification can make ‘boring’ subjects fun

Not every student will like math, or science, or history. But gamification offers a reason for students to enjoy coming to class and have fun while learning.

Even if students don’t ever “love” the subject, the happier they feel attending class, the better they’re likely to perform and apply themselves.

Share your ideas: How have you gamified your classroom?

Photo credits: wowomnomSyda Productions / Shutterstock.com


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