Game-Based Learning: Engaging Students through Gamification


Written by Amanda Longhenry

Gamification, a concept that has gained significant popularity in recent years, is the application of “games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation,” (Merriam-Webster).  It is believed that “gamification is effective because it taps into people's natural desires for competition and achievement,” (Merriam-Webster). By integrating elements such as competition, rewards, and challenges, gamification aims to enhance user engagement, motivation, and learning in various domains. Through the clever use of game design principles, gamification has proven to be a powerful tool for fostering positive engagement and achieving meaningful outcomes across a wide range of industries and disciplines.

Some gamification has already been integrated into educational settings, such as the popular website Kahoot, which is an interactive learning platform that enables educators and trainers to create and conduct online quizzes, surveys, and discussions in a gamified format. Gamification has become more popular globally, and is “expected to grow from USD 860.13 million in 2021 to USD 11671.18 million by 2030, at a [compound annual growth rate] CAGR of 33.61% during the forecast period 2022-2030,” predicted by The Brainy Insights. Many believe that the effectiveness of gamification in education is influenced by several factors, including the generation's familiarity with technology. While it is true that the current generation has grown up surrounded by technology and digital devices, the effectiveness of gamification extends beyond mere exposure to technology.

How Gamification Is Being Used In Education

Points & Leaderboards

Utilizing points and leaderboards proves to be a successful method for captivating students' attention and motivating their active involvement through a spirit of friendly competition. This approach effectively facilitates the acquisition of knowledge of target concepts among students. A perfect example of this is the H&R Block Budget Challenge (mentioned in a previous blog post). In this challenge, students are presented with a simulated financial scenario where they have to manage a budget, pay bills, save, and make financial decisions. The program incorporates a competitive element with leaderboards, prizes, and a gamified interface, creating an interactive and immersive experience that encourages active learning and financial literacy.

Virtual Simulations

Gamified simulations allow students to experience real-world scenarios in a safe and controlled environment. As aforementioned, the H&R Block Budget Challenge becomes even more captivating due to its inclusion of a simulation component. Another example is Microsoft’s MinecraftEdu – an educational version of the popular game Minecraft – that “inspires creative, inclusive learning through play,” (MinecraftEdu).  MinecraftEdu provides a range of age-specific lessons (i.e. “LatinExplorers: A Hispanic Heritage Journey”, “Artemis: Rocket Build”, etc.) crafted to facilitate enjoyable and engaging learning experiences for students in a simulated environment. MinecraftEdu’s goals are to 

Rewards & Achievements

Rewards and achievements are integral components of gamification in education as they serve to motivate and incentivize students. Rewards and achievements tap into students' intrinsic motivation, providing them with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. By earning rewards or unlocking achievements, students feel a sense of pride and fulfillment, which encourages them to continue engaging in the learning activities.

On top of its recognition, rewards and achievements serve as tangible feedback mechanisms, indicating students' progress and performance. They provide immediate feedback on students' achievements, encouraging them to reflect on their learning and identify areas for improvement. Tracking earned rewards and achievements offers students a visual representation of their accomplishments, reinforcing their learning journey and motivating them to continue their efforts.

The implementation of gamification in education has had significant impacts on both students and educators. By incorporating game elements into the learning process, gamification has been successful in engaging students, enhancing their motivation, and fostering a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Moreover, gamification has proven effective in promoting critical thinking, problem-solving skills, collaboration, and creativity among students. Educators have also benefited from gamification by gaining access to real-time data and analytics, which helps them assess student progress and tailor their teaching methods accordingly. Overall, gamification has emerged as a powerful tool in education, transforming the traditional learning experience and creating a more interactive and enjoyable environment that encourages active participation and academic success.