Gamification: The Key to Re-Engaging High School Dropouts
In the United States, the standard or normal work week is 40 hours. Any hours worked beyond forty, are considered overtime. So, what do we call clocking 45 hours a week playing games? GAMIFICATION. There are over 5 million people spending at least 45 hours a week playing games.
Worldwide, it is estimated that people play video and computer games three billion hours a week. It is obvious a lot of time and energy is dedicated to playing electronic games.
What motivates people to consistently spend their time playing games? After all, some people claim, "time is money" while others say, "time is precious." Time is something that cannot be bought or replaced.
Thus, one ponders if education can profit from gamification and if so, in what capacity?
What is Gamification?
What is gamification? According to Kapp (2012) and Renaud and Wagoner (2011), gamification is defined as "a system in which players engage in an abstract challenge, defined by rules, interactivity, and feedback that results in a quantifiable outcome often eliciting an emotional reaction". Gamification is also defined as using elements of game design in a non-game context.
As such, "how can we as a profession command from gamification in education?" What do games do for students who play them? Cohen (2011) and Badjor and Dragolea (2011) believe that it encourages students to:
* Be Curious - We can Relate, let's Remember, "Curious George"
* Have Imagination - Ok, Imagination is what Fosters Creativity and Innovation
* Sense of Play - Acceptable, as Both Children and Adults Crave Play
* Fun - Seriously, Who Doesn't Want to have Fun
* Engagement - Crucial to Say the Least, Students Need to Stay on Task
* To Fail - Failure is Crucial to Learning
* To Try - One Must Keep Trying Especially After Failure
* To Conquer - We Can Win by Trying, Failing and Trying Again
Failure to Achieve
Presently, there are many concerns and problems in public education. One that is especially crucial is in the area of students failing to graduate from high school. Could gamification play a central role by helping to solve the dropout epidemic in America? Let's explore the possibility of perhaps prevailing with gamification.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the real world keeps trying to conquer. I am alluding to the 1.2 million high school students that fail to graduate annually. The factors that contribute to the dilemma include disengagement, cheating, learned helplessness and dropping out. Joey Lee and Jessica Hammer, from Columbia Teachers College, claim a default environment as the reason for the aforementioned undesirable outcomes.
The word disengagement and learned helplessness caught my attention. Could gamification possibly be used as a learning technology resource to re-engage "dropouts"? Perhaps, there is a chance that we can engage them to try again and have fun while there at it. I believe that it might be a worthwhile endeavor.
Another key element, Badjor and Dragolea (2011), is that gamification not only commands student's attention but more importantly it "gains their commitment for a longer period of time." This conclusion gives educators the hope to have these students to be able to commit and increase their chances of graduating from high school.
Why Do Students Really Choose to Leave School?
There are key factors such as low student engagement, lack of parental support, poor academic performance, low socio-economic needs, insufficient individualized attention and a disconnect between learning and work force skills that play a crucial role in the process of a influencing a student's decision to drop out of school.
A study, conducted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that 47 percent of students dropped out of school because they were bored. The students found the classes to be dull, boring and not interesting at all.
If we could take care of the "boredom" factor alone, that could be the difference between having these students graduate or dropping out. Gamification could aid in this capacity and help students to commit to personalizing their instruction and seeing it to the end.
Is gamification a worthwhile investment and is something we should pursue for students whom have lost interest in learning? What does boredom cost in the long run? Let's look at the numbers.
According to the Gates study, a high school graduate will earn $260K more in lifetime earnings than a drop out. Furthermore, a college graduate will earn $1M more than dropouts. How's that for gauging an investment in the future of students?
Please note that I have not mentioned the cost to society. Rest assured that it is a significant cost and one that must be carried by taxpayers.
Self Determination Theory
The theory is composed of three components: competence, autonomy and social relatedness. Students that have failed to graduate from high school need the autonomy to be able to try again. They must be given the opportunity to feel competent and to relate socially in the hopes of persisting until they do conquer and succeed.
Gamification has the necessary components to instill and reinforce in students what is known as the "Self Determination Theory".
Benjamin Franklin once said, "Lost time is never found again." Upon reflection or in dire circumstances one do regrets what one has lost or failed to do.
Unfortunately, time is something that can never be recovered. As adults, 80 percent of dropouts believe that graduating is important. Many dropouts realize the importance of a high school diploma and either re-enroll and graduate or they earn their GED.
Gamification and Dropouts
Why not? Why not give another opportunity to students that are in the brink of giving up and those that already have. There is much to be gained and little to be lost. It could be a win, win situation for all.
"We can't undo the past, we have no idea what the future holds. Today, we have the ability to do something which can shape our lives and the lives of those around us." Unknown
I am of the belief that we should never, ever give up on anyone. It is easier said than done, however, from the depth of my being, values and just doing the right thing propels me to engage in venues that will help humanity better their lives. Although it is not a cure all, I do believe that it can and should be another valuable resource that can aid us in our mission to see all succeed.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this subject. Thank you for your continued support of 26 Gems. Until we meet again...