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The Pedagogical Benefits of Fun: Explorations in Gamified Learning

Nov 5, 2017 12:37:28 PM / by Jennifer Reed

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Video games for learning and teaching offer a great chance to boost overall student engagement. It also presents a potential to get students' attention. This is important for students who find focusing a challenge. However, knowing how to successfully combining the fun part of games with learning materials is tricky.

Well-designed games attract players into learning the game’s workings. That's because learning game procedures help players interact with the material. But these mechanics are very involved at times. For instance, some games require memorizing lengthy button-pressing sequences and patterns. Other games may require detailed management of inventory.

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But players will accept these challenges if they find the virtual world and its characters inviting. These aspects of game design have evolved over the years to bring benefits to the field of learning. Here are a few key benefits to consider:

Increased Engagement

Presentations, handouts, and content in online courses are static. They don't encourage learners to actively engage with the content. However, games promote interaction. Games help to keep learners' attention. A 2016 IOP Science study showed that gamification increased the active participation in learning. The study examined 10,000 responses of 55 trials. It showed that practiced helped to quadruple the participants' focus. Games give students chances to collaborate with others in multiplayer games. This enables them to connect with people and the content. You can also set up your online course to include simulations with open-ended questions or challenges. These games include the gaming element of action. Games help students engage through taking action and connecting with others and the educational content.


Instruction requires a way to test student knowledge. Games provide a standard way to assess students' performance. You can adjust the rules of a game to apply to all learners. This allows for a way to test all of your students using the same metrics. The educational benefit of the outcome of using games is that it enables uniformity within the educational landscape.


You can also leverage game-based learning to gain insight on your students' performance. For example, you can use games to measure the effectiveness of material within an online course. You can use the leaderboard to see which students achieve high scores. A 2015 study by faculty from the University of Hong Kong found that gamification strategies, such as using leaderboards and extra-assignment scores, have a positive effect on enhancing student participation. The use of these strategies result in the pedagogical benefit of gaining insight on what works from what does not for improving learning by using games. You can also use games to learn about your students' learning struggles. For instance, you can gather data from your dashboard to see which game level most students find hard to pass. This data helps to inform you about what game design elements work to improve learning.

Improved Recall

Research shows that gamification is useful in memory recall. You can apply challenges to online courses or flash card sessions that require your learners to repeat a pattern or behavior until they achieve the goal. Games allow students to take action and reflect on their mistakes. Students can practice skills using games. The outcome of using gamification in education is further demonstrated in a 2004 study conducted by a team of professors from the Syracuse University. The team found that practicing often increases students' chances to recall information. This tactic serves to improve memory.

Enhanced Critical Thinking Skills

The educational benefit and outcome of game-based learning also allows learners to apply and improve their strategic thinking skills. For example, you can include game challenges that require players to think about how to solve an equation to advance to the next level before other players do. This requires thinking ahead to advance to the next level. Using strategies helps to solve problems both in theory and in reality.

Final Thoughts

Gamification offers several instructional benefits that make learning fun. These tactics work particularly well in virtual environments through online courses. By understanding the value gamification brings to education, you can present and apply new methods of learning to your curriculum.

Click here to find out how you can  get a free, no-obligation evaluation  of your online courses


Topics: eLearning, Higher Education, gamification

Jennifer Reed

Written by Jennifer Reed

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