Steps for Applying Gamification in the Classroom

August 20, 2019
Applying gamification in the classroom requires certain steps. In today's article, we'll take a look at how to go about incorporating games and play in learning.

Gamification in the classroom is becoming more and more important in the educational process. Games are a fundamental part of culture. And the more important play becomes in learning, the greater potential games have to transform the experiences of school-aged children.

We’ve talked many times about the importance that games have in learning and child development. But now we want to talk about how to take advantage of play in order to educate children in an educational setting.

There are many different pedagogical methods and opinions regarding how to go about it. So, we’ve chosen a few concrete steps you can take to apply gamification in your classroom.

Gamification in the classroom: Evaluate your students

Identify problems and weak points

Identifying your students’ problem points or weaknesses is extremely helpful in determining the best strategies for gamification in the classroom. For example, if you notice that your students zone out or become distracted during PowerPoint presentations, you can add interactive elements.

You can set up a sort of “open world” configuration where children can choose their own path. To do so, you can add a line at the bottom of each slide that allows students to choose the next slide.

Make a class survey

Teachers and professors should analyze each class before they begin to work with their students. This way, they can determine the best way to motivate them.

The intention should always be understanding and getting to know the games that your students play. Then, you can base the gamification in your classroom based on your students’ skills and interests.

Define the objectives of learning through gamification in the classroom

In order to play in education, you need to establish well-defined learning objectives. Furthermore, the goals of learning must include behavioral goals or codes of conduct that help students understand concepts and develop abilities.

Steps for Applying Gamification in the Classroom

One example would be to establish a concrete learning objective that aims at students mastering a specific ability by a specific date. The behavioral goal would be focusing on encouraging students to leave distractions aside in the classroom.

The students don’t necessarily need to be aware of these goals, but defining your objectives will help guide the gamification experience.

Structure the game experience for learning

Create a different point system

Many students view their grades as the most upsetting part of the school experience. And for that reason, gamification in the classroom should mean modifying the way in which we present point systems. Here, we should place emphasis on progress rather than mistakes.

Therefore, when it comes to tests and assignments, you can grade your students traditionally or in the form of experience points (XP grading system)You can also award experience points for the completion of extracurricular tasks, class participation, or anything else a student can do to make an effort to learn.

Example: A student who got an B+ on a test can obtain 7500 experience points. These points will add onto any other points earned over the course of the semester. That way, students will have a clear reference point and know how much they’ve learned and achieved.

The element of gamification can help the way that students and teachers understand grading. Instead of starting at 100% and cutting points, students work their way up from zero XP. In other words, students don’t lose points, they gain experience.

Establish stages

Didactic themes and units create clear divisions for teachers and professors. However, students will probably see them more clearly if they understand that they’re going through a stage – or level – like in a game. In order to conquer one level and move on to the next, students must overcome certain challenges.

Steps for Applying Gamification in the Classroom

To do so, you must define concrete tasks, like prerequisites, that students must fulfill in order to move up a level. If students don’t do assignments, participate in class or complete tests, they won’t be ready to take on the challenges that come with the next stage.

Gamification in the classroom: Having the right resources

Create a manual and organize teams

The creation and distribution of an instruction manual is a way to bring students into the gamification of learning. Instruction manuals, whether they’re digital or tangible, are part of practically any game. They explain how to play a game and make progress, and also include tips and secrets.

Our educational version should contain the following information, for example:

  • How the stages work.
  • The types of tasks that students will take on.
  • The new experience point grading system, including how students can earn XP points.
  • How to earn rewards, and what types of rewards are available.

This will help students to have a clear point of reference. What’s more, it tells them what they need to do in order to be successful in a fun learning environment.

Make progress visible

Show your students their progress in a visible way. Allowing them to see what they’ve achieved since the beginning of the semester is an important social element to gamification in the classroom. It helps to promote a sense of community among classmates.

To achieve this, you can create and share a bar graph that demonstrates the progress of each student as he or she masters skills. Each time that a student earns points for a test or assignment, you can update the bar graph to include the new XP points earned.

Offer rewards

To combine play with learning in a way that attracts and motivates students, you need to think about rewards. Studies show that reward systems in gamified education encourage students to recognize their achievements and continue to progress.

Steps for Applying Gamification in the Classroom

If you think about the majority of modern video games, you’ll see that they have a common system. Players receive trophies for completing certain tasks. The harder the task is to complete, the more valuable the reward.

Rewards in the classroom can include, for example, small insignias or badges that students earn for completing small concrete assignments. 

They can also learn larger insignias for active participation over the course of the development of a theme. This encourages and motivates students to make more achievements and advance further.

Conclusions regarding gamification in the classroom

Today, gaming in the classroom is successful because students are more willing to participate actively in its implementation. In a very natural way, they become interested in the game at hand, and automatically understand and respect the rules and mechanics.

  • Karl Kapp (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. ASTD. San Francisco.
  • T. W. Malone (1981). What makes things fun to learn? A study of intrinsically motivating computer games. Pipeline.