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Dr. Dianna Lindsay's picture
After 43 years in my chosen profession, I remain excited, alive, and learning! From an active Twitter Account to blogging, from teaching Constitutional Law to Pre-AP English, from a national winner...
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Enlightenment: Gamification Theories of Instruction

  1. I have been wondering, "What learning theories actually support the use of games; where are games most appropriate?" Reminding myself of the differences between intrinsic motivation (doing something for its own joy-the reward is the doing) and extrinsic motivation (doing something for a reward or to avoid a punishment), I decided to push myself to review the model developed by John Keller-ARCS (Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction). These seem to apply to what I thus far understand about "gamification".
  2. ARCS defined is as follows:
  3. Attention means grabbing the attention/interest in the content to be taught (Madeline Hunter called this Anticipatory Set Theory). Teachers do this in a wide variety of ways via perceptual arousal, inquiry arousal, or variability on stimuli; the end result is that we get their attention in a positive way.
  4. Relevancemeans to hook, Velcro, or attach to prior knowledge, goal setting, or past knowledge via making meaning or modeling the intended outcomes. Matching the motivation of the learner to what needs to be learned seems most ideal to me. Marzanodiscusses this in his strategies of developing learners regardless of socio-economic family conditions.
  5. Confidencemeans building success. Jonathan Saphier says it best : "This Material Is Important, You Can Do This, and I Am Here To Make You Successful". This application of attribution theory is essential to success in any classroom with or without gamification.
  6. Satisfaction means that learners need to know and understand the links between what they are learning and the defined limits of success. This is where I judge that a flipped classroom is superior to all others as the background knowledge is acquired as homework, and the problem solving conversations occur in school as students link to make meaning.
  7. In the 1980s, Thomas Malone and Mark Lepper, worked to see if they could merge their research and translate it into what they called "The Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivation. The two-part taxonomy focuses on (1) internal motivation (challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy), and (2) interpersonal motivation (cooperation, competition, and recognition).
  8. My conclusion is simple: I get why kids are hooked on games! Games vary and exist to complete distributed practice, scaffolding, episodic memory, cognitive apprenticeships, and social learning. As Howard Gardner would say in his text, The App Generation , All of these place learners in what (see my review a few weeks ago) "this is a shift from technology to psychology of learning (p.25)."
  9. MihalyCsikszentmihalyi calls this same focus "flow". Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person is fully immersed and focused in what he or she is doing; it is full metal engagement in the process of engagement in one's own learning/discovery. This App Generation is indeed in the flow with their games!
  10. I am concluding that after studying the meta -analysis of Randel (1992), Wolfe (1997), Hays (2005), Vogel (2006), Ke (2009), Sitzmann (2011), well structured games change learning. More in the next blog about the elements of well structured games.