[Gamification] Must-Have Game Element #1

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So, I’ve decided to look at the different game elements I want to bring to my class one at a time, in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses and decide which ones will best benefit the learning process. I’ve already put a few into the “must-have” category, so I might as well start with those.

First up is the health meter.

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These are used in games to indicate the health or life force of a character. When the character is hit by something, the meter goes down (or loses a heart). What makes the health meter different from points or gold is that it starts out full and goes down when something bad happens. And if your health reaches zero, you die. :(

What need does the health meter fill?

Practice assignments need to get done, whether they’re done at home or at school. If a student is not practicing their skills, they run the risk of being ill prepared for the more important task of completing quests/missions. So I want to track progress of practice assignment completion, but I also want it separate from any sort of proficiency measure (just because you did the practice doesn’t mean you understood it). So, I plan to use the health meter for this.

Miss a practice assignment, lose a heart. Simple. Want to get that heart back? Drink this potion. Do the practice and show it to me. If you lose all your hearts, come in after school so we can talk. Why have you not been practicing? What can I do to help? Do we need to bring your parents into this?

I think this also may help with the “I was absent” excuse. It doesn’t matter one bit why you missed the practice, you missed it so you lose a heart. Do the practice, get it back.

And I can give rewards for keeping full health, like extra XP or gold or something tangible that they want and doesn’t cost a lot.

Please let me know any thoughts you have on this one! I know I haven’t looked at this from all angles yet, so I need some help.

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2 thoughts on “[Gamification] Must-Have Game Element #1

  1. matthewm1970

    I would be very curious about the efficacy of practice. Does it really improve understanding? Other articles I’ve read by Alfie Kohn would lead me to want real hard evidence that it’s useful before I’d be behind it 100%. A lot of the research out there seems to indicate that the homework (practice) we assign really doesn’t seem to have any benefit, let alone the benefits we want it to have. (http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/homework.htm)

    • Thanks for bringing this up! That’s another great article, I might even get his book about homework because I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I always make sure that my practice assignments are not just “drill and kill”, “30 of the same problem” style tasks, and I try to make sure they have clear learning benefits. But it’s true that I need to always question whether the benefits are real, or if I just *think* they are.

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