You’ve probably heard of classic educational games like Oregon Trail, or more recent ones like Prodigy Math. However, there’s an important difference between educational games and gamification.
While educational games integrate educational content into game design, “gamification” refers to the process of applying game elements to non-game contexts. We adults engage with forms of gamification all the time, like customer rewards programs and fitness app leaderboards.
When it comes to school, gamification is a fantastic tool for motivating students to engage with their learning, demonstrate positive behavior, and more. This is why it’s such an important part of Classcraft.
We’re big fans of self-determination theory.
This well-established field of research has found that people are driven to change and grow by three core psychological needs — autonomy, competence, and relatedness. It has also highlighted the importance of intrinsic motivation, or in other words, motivation to do something simply because you find it interesting or enjoyable.
Gamification works wonders at putting self-determination theory into practice. In the classroom, it provides autonomy, competence, and relatedness while helping to produce intrinsic motivation. Ultimately, students are driven to learn through enjoyment rather than pressure or fear of punishment.
Gamification is so powerful for helping kids succeed on multiple levels because both academic ability and behavior are developed through learning. Whether the goal is to improve in math or get better at collaborating with others, a student is far more likely to accomplish that goal when the learning process is enjoyable and meaningful for them.
Classcraft takes everything that gamification and self-determination theory have to offer and uses them to give learners what they need — psychologically and personally — to develop both academic knowledge and positive behavior.
Of course, gamification is about more than just using psychology to make learning more effective. It’s also about creating an experience that nurtures positive relationships and resonates with students culturally.
This is the beauty of play. For much of human history, it has sparked closer collaboration, friendly competition, new ways of communicating, and more. When all of this is channeled into the classroom through gamification — as well as game-inspired elements that kids recognize and love — that’s when school becomes more than just school.
It becomes a place where engaged learners and inspired educators can work and play together to build a truly supportive environment, one where everyone has the chance to succeed.