Overview

To gamify a classroom is “to turn an existing curriculum into a game-based learning environment” (Kingsley & Grabner-Hagen, 2015). Instructors can gamify their classroom through a variety of means but this introductory article reviews gamification means and how to accomplish integrating it into a classroom setting successfully.
    
This method is an opportunity for teachers to be able to instruct both writing and learning skills in a curriculum that can promote, prepare, and work in the realms of thinking critically and creatively (Kingsley & Grabner-Hagen, 2015). Often gamification involves an activity like achievements, levels, or XP (experience points); but also a variety of forms like stories or competitions. As quoted by Hanus and Fox, gamification is the method in which a teacher doesn’t only employ games in the classroom, but rather make the class a game in itself (2015). Studies at the elementary level indicate students respond positively to gamification and that it made learning easier; they also note their work quality improved, and this method was more desirable over the traditional pen and paper (Kingsley & Grabner-Hagen, 2015). We advocate caution though as there is still, overall, a limited number of formalized studies in this realm and effects are mixed (Hanus & Fox, 2015).
    
Psychologists Hanus and Fox found that gamification can create meaningful experiences for students, although specific methods also can generate negative reactions (e.g. rewards and leaderboards). They concluded that teachers should implement gamification in ways that promote communication and cooperation while using “interesting narrative contexts” (2015). According to Kingsley and Grabner-Hagen, there are four steps to start using the gamification method immediately: An instructor needs find which gaming mechanics would work in their classroom setting and context; explore various apps, games, and tools that a class can function in; focus on ways to changed students from “consumers to producers of information”; and finally, look at ways you can have students work together and develop skills (e.g. a podcast or movie trailer).
    
Implementation of this teaching tool can seem more entertainment than learning but students will develop their creative and critical thinking, communication and cooperation skills, and finally their literary craft (Kingsley & Grabner-Hagen, 2015).

References

Hanus, M. D., & Fox, J. (2015). Computers and Education: Assessing the effects of gamification in the classroom: A longitudinal study on intrinsic motivation, social comparison, satisfaction, effort, and academic performance Pergamon Press. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2014.08.019


Kingsley, T.L., & Grabner-Hagen, M.M. (2015) Gamification. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(1). doi: 10.1002/jaal.426

Examples

The Art of Negotiation: A Simulation for Resolving Conflict in Federal States

"This book sets up a game or simulation intended to help students understand the role of negotiation in intergovernmental relations. The setting is the fictional country of Holden. Participants role-play first ministers and other ministers at an intergovernmental conference. They learn how federal states manage such issues as the competing and conflicting demands of cultural and linguistic protection for minorities, the appropriate distribution of economic wealth among its states, and the accommodations that need to be made when a country engages in more liberalized trade with its neighbours."

Student Response Systems

Student Response Systems, or "Clickers" could also be used to introduce gamification elements into the classroom (e.g. Jeopardy-style tournament).

 

What Next?

Interested in exploring how gamification might be used in your classroom? Contact David Thuss (david.thuss@kings.uwo.ca, x4587) and set up an appointment.