Why you should be incorporating gamification into textbook exercises

Chess board Let’s play a game! After all, who doesn’t love a good game? Already your mind is excited to see what comes next. Eager to learn more. Ready for active participation. Primed to learn.

Isn’t that EXACTLY what you want from your students?

Level 1: The Basics of Gameplay

Gamification does not require the use of games to produce results, but rather the elements of gameplay that make games so engaging: objectives, strategy, challenges, and accomplishments.

Objectives should be clear. The measurable result of the exercise needs to be something that the student can perceive and pursue. This, however, can be abstract, as in “Locate as many relevant scholarly sources on the use of gamification in the classroom as you can in 10 minutes.”, where the objective is “as many” rather than a fixed result.

Strategy should be flexible. Where possible, you should provide choice in materials or toolsets to allow the student an opportunity for personalizing their learning experience.

Challenges should be appropriate. A challenge should be achievable but may require additional knowledge or resources to overcome. Some challenges may also be dependent on previous accomplishments.

Accomplishments should be rewarded. The successful completion of an objective should result in a tangible prize. This is commonly done through the awarding of points, badges, or recognition by “leveling up” as skills are mastered.

Level 2: Play to Win

Adding an element of gamification to your textbook exercises is not as much about the material as it is about the process of engaging the learner. After all, gamification is about adding elements of gameplay in a non-game context.

Although technology can enhance the user experience and delivery of awards, it is not required to add the features of gamification to your chapter exercises. Simply consider ways that students can earn points, advance levels of understanding, meet learning milestones, or otherwise progress through your material. Then define the learning path to reward students for meeting performance goals while challenging more advanced students to excel.

Level 3: Earn Rewards

The incorporation of gamification into the design of your textbook exercises is rewarding for everyone. Gamification is shown to encourage participation and boost productivity. It also allows students to make mistakes, accept challenges, and have fun.