Trough of Disillusionment
UMN Assessment
Time Frame
5 to 10 Years
Last Updated on Apr 21, 2016

Gamification refers to the use of games, game-like activities, or game elements (such as badges, leaderboards, tokens, or similar mechanisms) to enhance learning and/or increase engagement in an academic course. 

An accepted principle in teaching and learning research is that any increase in the time students spend actively engaged with course material leads to better learning outcomes. If casting an academic task or pursuit as a game leads students to spend time actively seek answers or engaging with the subject matter—albeit with the goal of winning points or competing with peers—then the game should lead, however indirectly, to more effective learning.

It might be said that the student who is solely focussed on maximizing her or his course grade is not really infused with the spirit of learning.  Similarly, working for game rewards in a class (i.e., accruing the most badges, acquiring the most tokens, achieving the highest point total on the leaderboard, etc.) may shift the learner's motivations from an intrinsic desire to learn and understand course material to an extrinsic motivation governed by the logic of the game, merely doing what is necessary to accumulate points. Serious students may feel that their education is being trivialized: They are being tricked into learning as a side-effect rather than relying on their maturity, self-motivation, and discipline to succeed.

Gamification of learning at the University of Minnesota
A number of University faculty members are experimenting with gamification. A sampling of recent projects includes: