It is no secret that video games capture the attention of young and old for hours upon hours. They are engaging, motivating and above all fun. When an activity or task is turned into a game, there seems to be this instant motivation to want to play. Judy Willis argues the importance of using the principles of video games in the classroom as a way to increase the motivation of students as well as resiliency when they receive feedback.
Games are always goal oriented whether it is to complete a level or end up with the most money at the end of the game. There is always something you are aiming to achieve. This idea of achievement motivates the player to continue until they are successful. Games provide a low rate of failure as they allow the player to try repeatedly until successful. Games are always providing feedback to the player. Sometimes the feedback is not being able to make it past a certain point in the game until the player figures out a new strategy.
This past year, our Year 5 classes created a gamified unit of mathematics called the Battle 4 Chatz. Our goal was to make the entire geometry unit one big game where each class ('gang' or 'team') had to battle the other 2 classes in order to win over the various sections of the school. This unit was played as a mixed learning environment both online and in person components. It had a narrative of a MR. ME character taunting the students to get better at math so they could capture each other and defeat the other teams only to have things change drastically in the final boss level. Along the way, there were also many sidequests for the students to participate in. Motivation and participation in mathematics was at an all-time high as students were completing work at home and in class with enthusiasm to work towards badges and help their team achieve their goals.
Breaking it down by Willis' main ideas, you will see that we took the principles of video games to create a positive experience for our students:
- Motivation: Gain more points than the other two teams through completing individual activities, which would then allow students to capture different areas of the school.
- Incremental Goal Progress: Students rewarded when a number of activities completed. A class could capture a portion of the school at the end of each level if they had the most points.
- Individual Achievable Challenge: There were 2-3 activities per level that were mandatory based on the grade expectations with tutorials for support. Students had to complete tasks individually in order to help their team. If they completed the mandatory tasks (main storyline), they could challenge themselves by doing sidequests for bonus points to add to their teams total.
- Feedback: Students received immediate feedback every time they completed an individual activity on their progress. As a class, their point totals were seen on the game site and updated in real time.
If you are interested in learning about the theory and reasoning behind the game, feel free to check out the link here: https://sites.google.com/a/chatsworth.com.sg/battle4chatzsite/
You can also access the game site itself here: https://sites.google.com/a/chatsworth.com.sg/math-turf-wars/
Willis, J. (2011) A Neurologist Makes the Case for the Video Game Model as a Learning Tool. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/neurologist-makes-case-video-game-model-learning-tool