Gamification 101

What is Gamification?

In The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, Karl Kapp defines gamification as the use of “game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems.”

Gamification is used by banks, who encourage customers to buy on credit in order to earn points. It’s used by businesses, such as in McDonald’s iconic Monopoly game.

And it’s being used in the classroom as well, on both large and small scales.

Instructors have always played review games, but the breadth and depth of games in the classroom are growing. Games are no longer seen as just a way to review content, but a way to learn it. Some courses are even being completely transformed into games in which the students earn badges, level up, customize a character, and unfold a narrative based on their coursework.

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Does Gamification Work?

Karl Kapp attempts to answer this question in The Gamification of Learning and Instruction by reviewing six meta-analyses which examine a total of 341 individual studies. Among his findings are the following:

  • Game-based instruction is viewed as more engaging and fosters better perspectives of learning than traditional instruction.

  • Games can produce increased gains in knowledge and retention of information.

  • To be effective, instructional games must be well-designed, including elements such as specified learning objectives, debrief sessions, and support for users.

How Can I Gamify My Teaching?

Whether you want to start small with a few game-based activities, or go full scale and transform your entire course into one big semester-long game, you can take steps to gamify your classes today using this handy gamification toolkit.

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