Defending Gaming and Gamification in Educational Settings

Here is a interesting excerpt (cross post) In Defense of the Term “Gamification” as used by Learning Professionals from the  Kaplan Kapp Notes Blog on Game Based Learning and Gamification:
“…Some of the elements of games that can be used for learning are listed below but the list is by no mean exhaustive (no mention of flow, curve of interest, avatars, cooperative elements, etc).

The list does include rewards and achievements because they do help with the entire process. These elements all contribute to an effective game. Take one element alone and it doesn’t make a great game, but, combine the elements and you can have a great game. All these elements need to be examined for their possible application to learning.Storytelling: Many games are great at integrating a story into game play and research indicates that learners learn facts better when the facts are embedded in a story rather than a bulleted list. Many more learning programs should be story based rather than bullet point-based.

Scaffolding: The progression of learning that occurs over time during the game is similar to the educational technique of “scaffolding” which builds on the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development introduced by Soviet psychologist and constructivist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s concept is relatively complex but to simplify it…as he was describing how children learned discovered something he called the “Zone of Proximal Development”.
Zone of Proximal Development is the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers. Game-based designs can bridge that gap in pre-defined increments usually in the form of levels.

Feedback: As you mentioned, another element that is important to facilitate learning is to provide frequent opportunities for students to respond during a lesson (Stichter et al, 2009). Games do this far more effectively and efficiently than a classroom instructor. Game-based thinking and mechanics provide continuous corrective feedback.

Freedom to Fail and the Element of Chance: In an instructional environment, failure is not a valid option. In games it’s encouraged with multiple lives and attempts. Games overcome the “sting of failure” specifically by doing things like giving multiple opportunities to perform a task until mastery and through the introduction of chance or randomness (two elements schools and corporations work hard to eliminate). In fact, a 2008 study by Howard-Jones & Demetriou indicate that gaming uncertainty can transform the emotional experience of learning improving engagement and, more importantly, improving encoding and later recall.

Reward and Achievements: Research indicates that in some cases extrinsic rewards actually foster intrinsic motivation. In a study by Harackiewicz et al. (1984) it was found that performance contingent rewards (found in many games) produced greater intrinsic motivation than the same performance objective and favorable performance feedback without reward.

Additionally, Eisenberger, Rhoades, L., & Cameron, J. (1999) found that performance-contingent reward increased students’ subsequent expression of task enjoyment and free time spent performing the task as compared with the receipt of an equivalent performance standard and favorable performance feedback…”

Read the rest of the post-Via KarlKapp at Kapp Notes: http://www.kaplaneduneering.com/kappnotes/index.php/2011/10/in-defense-of-the-term-gamification-as-used-by-learning-professionals/