Prior to this week’s reading, I was under the impression that the gamification of learning was more about capturing student engagement and making learning “fun”, similar to that of playing video games. Now, I realize it is much more than making learning fun—in fact, “fun” may not be a component to the learning process, at all!
Being a visual learner myself, I created this in cycle in my notebook to describe the Video Game Model.
The Behaviourists out there would be definitely ramping up the all parts of this cyclic model. Both positive and negative reinforcements could be peppered throughout the model. Feedback and cueing is continual throughout gaming processes, and rewards and punishments are distributed to keep gamers interested in coming back for more.
Information Processing fans may also chime into this discussion. Eventually, with repeated play, processes will be stored in the LTM, and automaticity will allow gamers to achieve higher, more challenging levels due to a more refined ability to multi-task.
What particularly grabbed me this week was the notion of “Incremental Progress Recognition”. Having watched David Suzuki’s Surviving 😉 the Teenage Brain, I already knew that teenagers’ pre-frontal cortex (PFC) made them more inclined to act impulsively. What I did not know until now, was that the immature PFC makes it very difficult for students to establish long term goals, as they much prefer immediate gratification. Thinking of ways to employ strategies that allow students to individually track their progress more often, hence in smaller increments, is officially on my radar.
The Effort Goal Graphs, are an interesting technique– I think that I will adapt that idea into a BINGO card format (and digitally formatted, but of course!)
I tip my hat to the English teacher in the video. Without question, she had that class dialed. Her tone was authoritative, yet nurturing; she seemed to have everyone on task. She constructed a safe learning environment where students were not afraid to share. Positive reinforcement was not lacking (verbal reinforcement, along with group based and individual rewards), students modelled positive behaviours throughout, cues were made and there was even a reference to what could be considered to be a contract (“…give yourself a check in your behaviour box.”).
Although different reinforcements may apply to different classroom dynamics, a “must” for my classroom management is developing a rapport with my students in the first couple of weeks. Without creating a trusting, teacher-student relationship, these reinforcements are not as effective and punishments may instead be relied upon. (It is no fun teaching when punishments are being handed out like Tic-Tacs.) Having almost two decades of teaching in my pocket, I can really look back a long way and recall the differences between 24-year-old me and 43-year-old me. I used to not invest much time in the relationship department, choosing to jump into curriculum right away. I thought that it was a good thing to give a heap of homework on the first day! Now, I choose to enter the curriculum slowly, instead opting to talk about myself, my teaching philosophies, and to establish clear expectations. In return, students are more willing to seek help right away, because I have established that I am not actually the Creature-from-the-Black-Lagoon.
As with the yearning to be the most effective teacher I can possibly be, the reinforcements will vary according to the class, according to the student. It is generally agreed that treating students fairly does not equate to treating them equally, necessarily. We all have our own optimal intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. For example, dropping the worst test for someone who has perfect attendance does little good if he has failed multiple tests.