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Games & Gamification in the Classroom

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Lisa Whatley

on 6 July 2014

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Transcript of Games & Gamification in the Classroom

Introduction to Gaming in the Classroom
Video: Games and Education Scholar James Paul Gee on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy
Video: Big Thinkers James Paul Gee on Grading with Games
Overview of Gaming
Experts stress the benefits of incorporating gaming into the classroom. According to Goehle (2013) “Over the past several decades video games have become a major component of the international entertainment industry and an integral part of popular culture. In recent years educators have been looking to harness the popularity of video games to improve classroom engagement and learning” (p.1).

Spires (2011) states: “Targeted as a highly desired skill for contemporary work and life, problem-solving is central to game-based learning research” (p. 453). Students gain new knowledge and skills during game play which can help prepare them for 21st Century jobs (p. 454).

Industry, policy makers and educators are agreeing more and more that success in the 21st century classroom and work place requires the ability to learn effectively and quickly in any situation. “Games are often viewed as potential tools for learning since they can simulate real-world complexity and fast-paced processing in ways that traditional school learning scenarios cannot approximate” (Spires, p. 454).

Games foster problem-solving skills which are considered a critical 21st Century skill for the work place and life in general.

Games have been shown to be important tools for teaching 21st century skills because they:

1. support various learning styles and promote complex decision-making

2. skill sets incorporated in well-designed games immerse students in the technological world in which they live

3. games promote the 21st century skills which are critical for all citizens (Spires, p. 454).

Gaming and Gamification in the
21st Century Classroom

Video: Game-Based Learning vs. Gamification
with Kevin Corbett
Games & Gamification in the Classroom
Presentation for WCPES Faculty by L. Whatley
Research shows that it is important to allow students the opportunity to gain self-efficacy through game play, which will prepare students for the “high-wage/high-skilled jobs that involve expert problem-solving skills and complex communication” (Spires, p. 455).

According to Spires (2011), playing games “promotes engagement, understanding, motivation, and interaction through player immersion in a complex, feedback-rich problem space” (p. 461).

Spires also states that “An important element in game design is creating an optimal balance between discovery elements and embedded supports to facilitate cognitive processing of the content” (p. 468).

“One of the advantages of utilizing video games in the educational setting is that groups of students can work together cooperatively and collaboratively, and this advantage can be used as a motivational strategy to teach students 21st Century learning skills (Trespalacios, Chamberlin, & Gallagher, 2011).”
According to Trespalacios, Chamberlin and Gallagher (2011) “the enGauge 21st Century Skills Framework developed by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), defines digital-age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication, and high productivity as the most relevant skills. Effective communication is defined by teaming and collaboration, interpersonal skills, personal responsibility, social and civic responsibility, and interactive communication” (p. 49).
Students were asked, “What do you think would be the benefits if video or online
games were part of your regular schoolwork or classroom activities?" The top responses from students from grades 6 to 8 included:
Easier to understand difficult concepts (61%)
learn more about a subject (58%)
more engaged in the subject (57%)
more interesting to practice problems (54%)
learn how to work in teams (43%)” (Trespalacios, Chamberlin, & Gallagher, 2011, p. 49).

“By carefully structuring a cooperative
lesson that uses the computer as a learning tool, many teachers find that students’ focus, engagement, and productivity are greater than when using either cooperative learning or computers alone” (Trespalacios, Chamberlin, & Gallagher, 2011, p. 50).

Gaming Research
A two- week study conducted by Trespalacios, Chamberlin, & Gallagher, used middle school students and a curriculum centered around games. The Games Lab curriculum focused on helping students become better content reviewers; however, the students’ social, written and oral communication skills, and critical thinking skills also improved. Students evaluated and tested video games such as all of the Nintendo systems, Play Station systems, Xbox, and computer games and web-based games. Students were exposed to a wide variety of games covering math, science, nutrition, and character creation.
Also included were retro games and games based on movies and TV shows. Students played alone, with a partner and in groups using different types of video games, consoles, and controllers. After playing the games students shared their opinions and asked questions. Study participants’ expressed a preference for multiplayer games which shows that “company, collaboration, and competition” are what causes this preference. Study observers noted that students liked to help each other and that each player had different skills to help complement each other. (Trespalacios et al, 2011, p. 50-52).
Trespalacios, Chamberlin, & Gallagher stress:
“As educators, we need to take advantage of this motivation
for students to be together and work together
to share their knowledge to reach educational goals.
Students want to compete” (p. 52).
Research on Gaming Continued
According to The NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition, “A 2013 study by the American Psychological Association highlights the cognitive, motivational, emotional, and social impact video games have on human behavior; this significant body of research underlines the overwhelming potential of games to teach new forms of thought and behavior” (p. 38).
In a study conducted by Chuang and Chen (2009), third graders were assigned to two treatment groups, one group used computer assisted instruction and the other group used computer-based video games. Results showed that playing video games was more effective than computer-assisted instruction to bring about student learning including recall, fact differentiation, problem-solving with multiple solutions to problems recognized and higher-level thinking (p. 7-8).
Introduction To Gamification
10 Minute Video Extra Credits:
Gamifying Education
“Gamfication — the integration of gaming elements,
mechanics, and frameworks into non-game situations
and scenarios for training and motivational purposes —
has added another level of complexity to discussions
surrounding the potential of games to transform
teaching and learning” (New Media Consortium, 2014, p. 38).
Studies have shown that gamification can increase creativity, productivity, engagement and authentic learning in the classroom by incorporating “game-like” elements such as experience points, quests, milestones, badging and leader boards to transform classroom learning into a rewarding and memorable experience (New Media Consortium, 2014, p. 38)
Research on Gamification
Goehle (2013) conducted a study to incorporating gamification to encourage high school calculus students to do their homework via a program called WeBWorK. The goal was to give students a sense of progress and growth by incorporating gamificaion, which included allotting students the benefit of “experience points” for performing tasks and having them then earn “levels.” They also earned “achievements” if they earn a required score on a test or complete extra credit (p. 234-235).
Results of students’ surveys showed that students kept track of their level and achievements, tried to earn achievements, found the achievement and level system rewarding, appreciated the acknowledgment of their efforts, and that the gamificaiton of their homework heightened their sense of accomplishment upon completing a problem or a set of homework problems (Goehle, p. 243).

Gamification and Special Education: Adaptive technology
Many gaming consoles (Xbox One, PS4, etc. ) offer voice controls and motion sensors that can be used in the classroom to educate and rehabilitate. Kinems, an educational company, has been developing games for students with disabilities using cloud-based software and Microsoft Kinect’s motion sensor technology to provide games which improve student attention span, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, ability to follow directions, and problem solving (New Media Consortium, 2014, p. 38).
Gamification and the Special Education Student
In a case study conducted by high school math teacher, Kate Faneli, MathLand was incorporated to target at-risk students with emotional issues. In this gamified classroom, students earn points only when they can demonstrate that they have learned concepts through taking mastery tests provided through MathLand. Students are given a simple avatar which can become more specialized as they advance (Kharbach, 2012, para. 3).
Results showed that these incentives worked:
in the first year a 17% improvement in statewide assessment performance was found.
Attendance increased 13% in the first two years
Standardized test results continued to improve by 22% by the end of the third year (Kharbach, 2012, para. 3)

Game-based Learning in the Special Education Classroom Continued...
Technology allows disabled students to write, speak, communicate and pay attention in ways that they would not be able to due to physical or mental disabilities. MP3 players can enable students to listen to audio books while they follow along silently in the book. Disabled students can type out the ideas or comments and simply complete assignments more efficiently using technology. Games have also been shown to hold disabled students’ attention more easily and get them more excited and engaged in the learning process (Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, 2014, para. 2-3).
Games allow students with disabilities to get the practice on skills they need and often do not get in the general education class. These students also have trouble generalizing skills, and games which focus on math and reading skills motivate students to use those skills in a more social setting. “Games are a great way to engage your students, as well as give them lots of opportunities to practice skills and content knowledge” (Webster, 2014, para. 2).
For more Information on Gaming
Informative web page with two videos on Game Based Learning

For more Information on Gamification

Here’s Why We Need Games in Every Classroom: 30 Minute video



Funding for Gaming Materials
Science Games

Math Games

Miscellaneous Elementary Level Games

Great Resource to Help You Get Started with Game-Based Learning
Game-Based Learning: Resource Roundup
Edutopia's collection of articles, videos, and resources on using video games,simulations, and gaming concepts in the classroom.

Web Sites with a list of links to Many Games


Games and Resources for Students with Disabilities


Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. (2014). Special education and video games. Retrieved from http://chccs.web.unc.edu/2011/04/16/special-education-and-video-games-april-11/

Chuang, T.-Y., & Chen, W.-F. (2009). Effect of computer-based video games on children: An experimental study. Educational Technology & Society, 12(2), 1–10.

Digital Media & Learning Hub. [DMLResearchHub]. (2011, August 4). Games and education scholar James Paul Gee on video Games, learning, and literacy [Video file]. Retrieved from

Edurevolution. (2014, May 9). Game based learning vs gamification [Video file]. Retrieved from

Edutopia. [edutopia]. (2010, July 20). Big thinkers James Paul Gee on grading with games [Video file]. Retrieved from

Extra Credits. (2012, May 13). Extra Credits: Gamifying Education. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Goehle, G. (2013). Gamification and web-based homework. Primus : Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies, 23(3), 234-246. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1467230356?accountid=11078

Kharbach, M. (2012). Importance of gamification in the classroom. Retrieved from:
http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/importance-of-gamification-in- classroom.html

New Media Consortium. (2014). NMC Horizon report: 2014 K-12 edition. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2014-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

Spires, H.A., Rowe, J.P., Mott, B.W., & Lester, J.C. (2011). Problem solving and game-based learning: Effects of middle grade students’ hypothesis testing strategies on learning outcomes. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 44(4), 453-472.

Trespalacios, J., Chamberlin, B., & Gallagher, R. (2011). Collaboration, engagement & fun: How youth preferences in video gaming can Inform 21st century education. Techtrends, 55(6), 49-54.
Webster, J. (2014). A Social skills units on friends: Helping students with social skills deficits to build friendships. Retrieved from http://specialed.about.com/od/mathfoundations/a/Games-To-Support-Students-With- Disabilities.htm
Full transcript