Getting students motivated: gamification in the classroom

One of the most difficult aspects of education is keeping students motivated. Within the past decade, researchers have been exploring gamification of the classroom.

Gamification turns the learning experience into a game with rewards to keep students motivated. Information technology researcher Fiona Fui-Hoon Nah and her team define gamification as “the application of game-design elements to non-game activities.”

In traditional learning environments, students are reprimanded for their shortcomings. This makes learning appear punitive to the student, incentivizing them to do the bare minimum required to avoid reprimand.

Gamification, on the other hand, provides positive reinforcement, rewarding good behavior. The success of gamification lies in providing instant gratification for learning. It not only makes learning fun but also makes doing the bare minimum seem less appealing.

At JEI, we incorporate elements of gamification into our program. Many of our Centers use a reward system that involves prizes. Ruma Varshney, the Director of our Hillsborough Center, uses what we call “JEI Money” to incentivize students to develop good study skills.

“[Students] get JEI money in every class based on their performance, homework, tests, and focus in that class, which they can use to buy things from our prize cabinet,” Varshney explains. “If anything is not 100%, they don’t get the expected amount of money in that class.”

At Varshney’s Center, the prize cabinet is filled with toys, games, art supplies which students can buy for $20-$1000 in JEI money. She even offers gift items for parents around Mother’s and Father’s Day.

Many of our locations, including Hillsborough, also award a student of the month. Varshney explains that the student of the month is awarded for showing a positive attitude towards learning. Criteria include focus, willingness to learn, consistently completed homework, and classroom engagement.

“They are given a trophy, and we put their picture in our lobby for the entire year,” Varshney told us. “This has been a great motivator, and introduces a positive competition among students.”

And this competition pays dividends. A research team led by Anthony Brewer showed in a lab experiment that gamification using a scoring system and prizes increased task completion from 73% to 97%. We see similar results in our JEI Learning Centers. “Both of these things have really helped us to keep the children motivated and get the best out of them,” says Varshney.

Our scientific approach to learning is what makes JEI the leading provider of supplemental education worldwide. To get started with our program, find a JEI center near you today!