I wrote a post about my experience playing “Words with Friends” and how my intrinsic desire to play the game was undermined by the offer of digital badges.


Laura Chapman wisely related my e periencevto the growing trend to introduce video games into the classroom and incentivize students with digital badges.

She writes:

“The “gamification of education” is one aspect of the effort to shove apps and software into schools, call it personalized learning while teaching lessons about competition not unlike those Diane reports in this blog.

“Here is a recent study, and not the only one, where the gamification feature does not produce gains in learninng.

Computers & Education

Volume 80, January 2015, Pages 152-161 by Michael D. Hanus and Jesse Fox

“Gamification, the application of game elements to non-game settings, continues to grow in popularity as a method to increase student engagement in the classroom.

“We tested students across two courses, measuring their motivation, social comparison, effort, satisfaction, learner empowerment, and academic performance at four points during a 16-week semester.

“One course received a gamified curriculum, featuring a leaderboard and badges, whereas the other course received the same curriculum without the gamified elements.

“Our results found that students in the gamified course showed less motivation, satisfaction, and empowerment over time than those in the non-gamified class. The effect of course type on students’ final exam scores was mediated by students’ levels of intrinsic motivation, with students in the gamified course showing less motivation and lower final exam scores than the non-gamified class.

“This suggests that some care should be taken when applying certain gamification mechanics to educational settings.

“I scanned several other studies. Middle school students, for example, showed initial interest in game-like presentations of content, but they lost interest in the “do this and get a badge, or try again” formula thinly disguised as quests or adventures.

“Younger students in gamified classrooms are learning less about content and more about their status relative to peers in a computer display and dashboard environment that is the equivalent of a class list with stars for “good students” and nothing at all for others. The great variation is gold, silver, and bronze stars. The badge system for “competency based personalized education” is marketed as if revolutionary. I think not.”