Why teachers should use games for PBIS success

PBIS can massively improve student behavior in a school, and using games for PBIS is a natural fit. Any new implementation takes effort, and by leveraging the social power of games, teachers and administrators can make that process easier.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) teaches students behavioral expectations by acknowledging and promoting prosocial behavior in order to prevent negative behavior from developing.

Naturally, we’re huge believers in games for PBIS. Classcraft strongly supports Tier I of PBIS, and our team works hard to stay up-to-date on all the latest ways to implement and succeed with PBIS. To get you started, here are three important reasons why schools should use games for PBIS.

1. Rules are a natural part of any game

One of the core principles of PBIS is that all children can be taught appropriate behavior with the right structure. Games provide this through a system of rules and mechanics that players must master (called “competency”).

Using games for PBIS is useful because kids naturally gravitate toward games and are familiar with how they work. In fact, by age 21, the average child has played 10,000 hours of video games, the same amount of time they’ve spent in school.

Thus, students won’t see your school rules — which behaviors are encouraged and which are discouraged — as arbitrary rules you’re trying to get them to follow. If your PBIS is part of a game, students will want to follow the rules because they’re part of something bigger. They’ll exhibit more prosocial behaviors because they have meaning for them.

Boy PBIS School

2. Games feature a sense of progress

The key to creating a good game is to make the rules easily understood so that they’re possible to achieve but also add the right level of challenge so kids can maintain interest and find success rewarding. When planning your PBIS activities, consider how you can leverage not only the rules but also the rewards of games to engage students.

For example, teachers could create an “achievement board” where students can earn points for demonstrating good behaviors. Collectively earning certain amounts of points could “unlock” benefits for the whole class or school, such as a party or extra time outdoors. This way, each student will be motivated to participate, and since they’re working toward a goal together, they’ll develop teamwork and collaboration skills and foster better social relationships, too.

Making visible progress on a board also provides a level of “feedback” (another common mechanic of games) that shows students the results of their actions and decisions and teaches them how to course-correct their behavior in order to succeed. You’ll also be able to better monitor student progress to inform your PBIS interventions and ensure that they’re working.

3. Both PBIS and games are research-based

Successful PBIS thrives on scientifically validated interventions and strategies. In turn, a strong foundation of research bolsters the positive, long-term effects of games.

According to information from onlinecolleges.net on how games are changing education, “Students who played ‘pro-social’ games that promote cooperation were more likely than others to help out in real-life situations like intervening when someone is being harassed.”

Games are also positive for education in a number of other ways, including improved test scores and increased student motivation and engagement levels, according to a report from the ESA.

Overall, these three reasons show why leveraging games for PBIS can increase the chances for successful interventions and enhance the positive impact on students and school culture.

Photo credits: racom, wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.com
Stephanie Carmichael Stephanie is the editor-in-chief of the Classcraft Blog and the Head of Content for Classcraft (www.classcraft.com). She's a proud advocate of games for social good and loves talking with teachers about their amazing experiences in the classroom. Email her at [email protected]
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game-based learning, Games, PBIS, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
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