November 8, 2021|
November 8, 2021

Changing the game through Gamification in Education: Making your classes more effective & fun

If you want to be at the top of your teaching game, there is no way around gamifying your classroom. Gamification in education has proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase student engagement and content retention. In this article we have gathered everything you need to know about gamification, and how to incorporate it into your teaching.
Category : Teaching Tips
Gamification in education

Let’s talk about Gamification in Education…

It is high time the principles of gamification and gamification in education got the recognition they deserved. By now, most have acknowledged that benefits to gamified learning exist. So how come the active application of these principles to the classrooms are about as frequently seen as the sun during winter in Sweden?

Student studying Gamification in Education

What is Gamification?

When talking about gamification, it is important to understand the difference between gamification and game based learning. Both concepts combine games and learning, however the nature in which game elements are integrated into learning is fundamentally different. Let’s have a look at game-based learning first.


Game-based learning: A topic is learned in the context of a game.

In other words: With game-based learning, the learning happens through playing. There is a clear goal and framework. The game is at the center of, or rather, the game IS the learning experience. It is inseparable from the content which it aims to teach. How is it different from gamification?


Gamification: Game-design elements and mechanisms are incorporated into a non-gaming context.

Gamification in education is an instance, where game-like components are incorporated into the learning process. But, it does not mean that students actually play games. The goal is to make learning more fun, and increase retention. In Gamification, the focus lies on the gamified element, which can be applied to many topics, and is separate from the content. Examples for such elements are rewards, certificates, chat functions, apps, comparative scoring, timed activities, etc.

You’ve probably already participated in or applied gamified learning activities, and didn’t even know that’s what they were! Separating students into smaller groups in order to work on activities is, in fact, an application of gamification in education.

Gamification in Education for children


Statistics & Predictions about Gamification in Education

There is an abundance of research data and articles on gamification in education as well as in the workplace. But if you’re not well versed in this subject yet, it may have slipped by you. Here are the numbers on why you need to include gamification into your curriculum like yesterday.

  • Students for whom challenge-based gamification was included in their education performed 89.45% better than their peers who merely received lectures.
  • 67% of students said that they find gamified learning more engaging and more motivating than traditional learning.
  • In 2021, ProProfs included gamification in their 10 must-have software features of a LMS (learning management system).”
    According to EdTech, 55% of students in 2019 were using smartphones in their classrooms. The percentage was even higher for homework, with 64% of students using smartphones, and 65% using laptops.

These numbers clearly demonstrate the ubiquity of technology in students’ lives, and predict a more rapid growth still. Gamification is one of the hottest topics of this age, and gamification in education is no exception.

New technologies for Gamification in Education


Benefits of Gamification

So why does gamification in education work so well? For starters, gamifying the learning process raises intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for students.


Let’s take a little detour into the realm of motivation…

Psychology differentiates between two main sources of motivation: Extrinsic and intrinsic. Gamification in education aims to achieve the best learning outcomes by targeting both forms of motivation.

Extrinsic motivators are outward factors that prompt a person to display a certain behavior or pursue a specific goal. They are things like rewards or recognition, but can also be negative, like punishment. Grades are a common example for an extrinsic motivator in class. Students are encouraged to work hard and do well on an exam, in order to be rewarded with a good grade.

Intrinsic motivators on the other hand come from within. A person is inherently motivated to do something. Perhaps this is because the activity in question is enjoyable to the person. Perhaps they are motivated by their innate desire to grow, or they strive for connection with others. Intrinsic motivation is typically seen as more effective in the long-term.

What’s really interesting however, is how we can harvest the interplay of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation using gamification in education, in order to boost a student’s learning experience. An example for this is how group connectivity – an external motivational factor – determines the intrinsic motivation for self-development.

Gamification in Education motivational factors

Connectedness is in fact one of the three crucial, inborn needs that make up the Self-Determination Theory developed by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci, a theory remains one of the most widely accepted motivational theories to this day. They hypothesize that if three essential needs, which all determine a growth mindset, are met, then our motivation will be at its highest. Those three needs are:

Autonomy: Our will and control over what we do.

Applying game-like elements to the learning process can highly push a student’s autonomy, fulfilling the first of the three innate needs of the Self-Determination Theory. Gamification in education tends to focus on developing problem-solving skills, and to encourage students to think outside the box.

Competence: How does an action align with and further our knowledge and skills?

As humans, we have an inherent desire to be good at what we do. When we are, we derive satisfaction from the activity, and we are motivated to continue building our skillset. Here’s the catch though. In order to stimulate our need for competence, an activity must possess the optimal level of challenge. It cannot be too easy, or it will appear unappealing. Yet, it cannot be too difficult either, or it will seem unattainable. Through gamification in education the fine balance between challenging and achievable is created.

Connectedness, or belonging: The feeling of connectedness to others and the idea of a purpose bigger than ourselves.

By now we know that gamification in education is basically to add any components that make class more fun. A big part of that is to promote a sense of group community, and even connection between the teacher and the students. Everyone has a different preferred learning style. Factoring in all learning styles, there are plenty of social components that can be added to the learning experience in subtle, helpful ways.

Gamification in Education connects

Gamification as an integral part of the English4Work teaching platform

We address all three needs for self-determination on our very own English4Work teaching platform.
Our platform incorporates a large number of the elements from gamification in education that have been shown to increase learner engagement and retention.


In language learning, students must understand the vocabulary they are learning in different contexts. They need to learn about nuance, and know how to apply what they’ve learned to their individual circumstances.

Through the use of the English4Work platform, students automatically work on their critical thinking and independent problem solving skills. They do not merely learn their vocabulary by heart, but are instead prompted by the system to revise their words in different manners, using a gamified approach. They revisit previously learned vocabulary words in their Reading Activity, following which they cement the words into their memories through Listening, Multiple Choice, and Spelling and Recognition Activities.

Once they feel confident in their knowledge, they get to prove what they’ve learned in the Speaking and the Writing Activity, where they speak freely or write an essay on a topic of their choosing. Through this process, it is ensured that students genuinely comprehend their technical terms, and know how to use them in different scenarios.

Autonomy Gamification in Education


By means of tests and trials, we found the key to providing the perfect grounds for fulfilling the need of competence is actually simple: It’s clear instructions. When there is no doubt about the task at hand, students are a lot less likely to hesitate. Rather, they can confidently tackle the exercise, keen to test and improve their skills. For this purpose, we have kept the design and instructions on English4Work simplistic, yet crystal clear.

The study process is distinctly structured and provides students with explicit, attainable goals. If they are stumped at any point during an activity, they take advantage of the ‘Help’ function, which will steer them in the right direction.
In addition, they are provided with instant feedback by our system, at every step of the way. Effective feedback can be a force to be reckoned with in learning. It can raise student’s self-awareness, as well as their enthusiasm for learning. Because consistent feedback eliminates uncertainty, it is also a great way to boost a student’s confidence, regardless of how they are performing.

Gamification in Education competence


We understand that everyone has a different learning style. Some students would rather only do group activities, while others’ idea of a perfect class is one where they don’t have to work with anyone at all. English4Work is designed in a way that allows for all preferences to be accomodated. 🙂

To further promote a sense of connectedness, all students learning with English4Work are added to our internal World Ranking. Here, students can see how they are doing in comparison to learners from all over the world. And who knows: Maybe it will awaken somebody’s Wanderlust?

Upon completion of all units with an average grade of 85% or higher, students are also automatically issued their personal English4Work PDF certificate. Certification not only proves a student’s commitment and competency to achieve their goals, most importantly, it’s a great reward for your student’s hard work.
PRO TIP: Customize the student certificates issued through your teacher account at the beginning of your course. 😉

connectedness of gamification in education

Look out for these Gamification elements on English4Work

  • World Ranking
  • Certificates
  • Instant Activity Feedback
  • ‘Help’ Feature


How can principles taken from gamification in education inspire you? How can they help you improve your classes?


Are you looking to be a world-class online English educator too?
Register for a FREE DEMO, and see what English4Work can do for you!

Related Topics: Learning | Online Tool | Teaching

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