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What is Gamification?

What is it?

It is the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as a teaching technique to encourage engagement with curricular content.

Using games as an educational tool was frowned upon for higher education for most of the last century. It is only recently that it has been studied more in-depth and games are incorporated into learning activities in all fields, including medicine. Doing a recent search in the UIC Library databases, there are at least 300 peer-reviewed articles on the topic. See the short list of references below and check it out for yourself.

Some quick definitions:

Gamification: adding game elements to a non-game context

Game-based Learning: Using games as the lesson or as part of the lesson

Serious Games: Games designed for an outcome rather than purely for entertainment

Here is a webinar on gamification from Dr. Ray Pastore that took place in December 2020:

What the research shows around gamification:

  • In the general population, gamers have higher grades and test scores. (Adachi & Willoughby, 2013; Bowers & Berland, 2013; Steinkuehler & Duncan, 2008; Bavelier, & Daphne, 2016).
  • Leads to behavioral engagement in the classroom, more regularity in class attendance, leadership, and teamwork abilities in students. (Kane & Spradley, 2017; Im, Hughes, Cao, & Kwok, 2016).
  • Leads to school identities and higher self-confidence. (Im, Hughes, Cao, & Kwok, 2016).


Gamification Heading link

This is small collection of games you can play with your students.

The Thing From The Future is an award-winning imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures:

Here is a short collection of resources to create digital quizzes:

Here are some examples of virtual team-building activities you can use with your students.

The full link:

It includes:

Pretzl Online Discussions

Pretzl is a unique tool to create more interactive discussions that are more fun (and interesting) than what Blackboard has to offer.

There is a free version available, though it is limited.