Motivate Student Achievement with Game Based Learning Standardized tests are both blessing and bane for teachers. On one hand, testing gives clear benchmarks of student progress. On the other hand, preparing students for standardized tests puts enormous amounts of pressure on teachers and students, and the time required to adequately prepare students for tests can take away from other teaching goals. JogNog’s American Science Challenge was created to address these challenges through game based learning.
JogNog harnessed the power of game based learning to motivate Massachusetts 8th graders to prepare for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. The game allowed students to master science concepts while competing with their friends. Teachers found that the JogNog program both engaged students and saved teachers time through allowing students to practice self-paced study outside of class and quickly notifying instructors when students encountered problem areas. The program allows teachers to “flip” their classrooms—moving memorization and rote practice out of the classroom so teachers can use class time for instructional aims such as creative problem solving and teaching higher order thinking skills.
The JogNog game presents material in a simple question and answer format. As students answer questions correctly they build towers and can knock down other players’ towers. A timer helps keep students focused on answering the questions. A leaderboard harnesses the power of competition to encourage students to improve their performance, and systems such as merit badges and success tables also help motivate student achievement. The program also piloted an “Ace that Test” quiz game that successfully motivated students to understand the exam’s importance.
Another important part of the program was an interschool competition, JogNog Mastermind. Students won awards for being the top performer on a certain day or for having the overall top score. The program also awarded a trophy to the school with the highest combined participant score. Only three schools joined in the competition, but students in those schools had a dramatic increase in motivation. Interestingly, students in the winning school were much more invested in winning the school prize than in earning the individual awards. This seems to add to the growing body of evidence that internal motivation is more important than extrinsic rewards in motivating student learning.
The JogNog game can be accessed online through any web browser and is available on most mobile platforms. A JogNog whitepaper gives more information about the program’s methodology and effect on student learning.
How have you used game based learning to maximize instructional time and motivate student learning?