What is Gamification
As the teachers filed into the sunlit gym for another day of scheduled professional development, scattered comments could be overheard, “”I could have used this day in my classroom,”” or “”I brought papers to grade,”” and even “”I already know what this is going to be about – we covered this last year!”” While in reality this is a fictitious meeting, throughout the schools nationwide, teachers attend professional development meetings with mixed reviews (Strauss, 2011) Professional development is a necessary component for any career choice if workers are to stay current with trends in their career, and arguably more important for those that have chose teaching as a career. Teachers must stay up to date with learning trends, new technology, research of developmental processes of students, and state and national standards (Meissel, Parr, & Timperley, 2016.) Professional development must be perceived as meaningful and useful to those receiving it (Badri & Mohaidat, 2016). What if we could provide a learning option where teachers could have choice in what they are learning, how they are learning new concepts, and on a schedule they chose? Would professional learning then be internally motivated and viewed as a beneficial component to the classroom instead of “”one more thing to do?””
Statement of the Problem
Engaging students in the learning process is the crux of the art of teaching. Some teachers seem to be a natural at hooking students and keeping them mesmerized throughout the learning process. While successful teachers know this intrinsically, education and professional development for teacher is notorious having a reputation of being dry and unengaging, having few expectations, and little time to implement the new learning of the teachers into their respective classrooms (Badri & Mohaidat, 2016). Many times the subjects broached are for most of the staff instead of all of the staff, yet those that the training does not apply to, still are expected to sit and listen. Those participants are at the least, bored, and at the most, harbor resentment and discontent with what they perceive as time wasted.
Acknowledging the need for professional development is not enough. Providing the latest research excites some, but overwhelms many, especially with the ever increasing mountains of information available in the education field. It is not just educational philosophy and pedagogy, but also includes curriculum development, relationships, assessment, and technology – just to name a few areas in which professional development takes place. The learning potential of the staff must be extracted if students are going to truly benefit. How do we get staff to buy-in to a continued learning cycle? Furthermore, is there a way to increase staff engagement through technology or gaming techniques and still have teachers professionally learn?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this research project was to determine if there was a significant difference of teacher achievement and learning when professional development material was presented in a gaming atmosphere. Additionally, do teachers perceive the professional learning process is more effective when gamification is applied to required staff learning materials? This study implements gamification in order to improve teacher training at the building and district level. My hypothesis is that through gamification of professional development for teachers, teachers will show growth of learning specific concepts and applications to enhance classroom skills in teaching.
For the purpose of this qualitative study, the following overarching question will be posed: To what extent do teachers perceive increased engagement and learning potential when their professional development subject material is gamified?
What are current gamification methods being used to increase buy-in of end users?
How are significant gains in professional development knowledge directly attributed to the gamification of educational concepts?
What data collected in the professional development setting supports increased teacher education is taking place?
Limitation of the Study
The following limitation and assumptions were identified:
The sample in this study was limited to a single district, K-12 building.
Technology is required, therefore the availability of computers and gaming applications may be a limitation.
Survey instrument: Assumption that participant answers were honest and unbiased.
The reliability and validity of the survey may be limited by the examiners inexperience and/or understanding.
There exist varying definitions of gamification which could limit the validity of data studied.
A purposive sampling of 50-100 teachers from one school district were used when collecting data for the survey. A larger sampling size would likely increase the reliability and validity throughout the study.
According to research the field of survey methodology reports challenges in the use of questionnaires as a data collection tool (Fraenkel, Wallen, & Hyun, 2015).
Definition of Key Terms
Badging – a graphic element awarded to a participant for completing a task. This usually encompasses a training (video, slideshow, screencast), a quiz or survey completed by the participant , and the participant producing an artifact of the training. It can include all or some of these elements (Cheong & Cheong, 2014).
Educational Technology- the purposeful implementation of pertinent digital tools or suitable techniques that enhance teaching practices and improve learning outcomes for students. (Aziz, 2010).
Engagement – amount of involvement in the learning process including but not limited to: attention, passion, interest, optimism. There are different types of engagement including: intellectual, emotional, behavioral, physical, social and cultural. (“”The Glossary of Education Reform””, 2016)
Gamification – utilizing elements of games to incentive learning. Examples may include: badges, leaderboards, levels, achievement avatars, points and teams, in addition to curiosity (i.e. choose your own adventure), challenges, relationships, game styles, and aesthetics. (Cheong & Cheong, 2014).
Growth – the difference between the knowledge of the tested concept before the training compared to the understanding of the concept after the training.
Knowledge management – the ability to disseminate and manage knowledge of an organization to better the organization.
Learning potential – the ability to learn, in this study, of the participating teachers.
Personalized Learning- Learner driven instruction. The pace, level of difficulty and subject material drive the learning objectives, instructional approaches, and instructional content making the activities more meaningful and relevant to the learner (U.S. Department of Education, 2018).
Professional Development – typically takes place as a conference, seminar or meeting. Sharing of information in a whole group setting about updated policies, procedures, curriculum or research.
Professional Learning – integrates technology allowing the participant to learn at their own pace, covering subject material pertinent to their field or interest. Professional learning can also be used by administration to disseminate updated information by applying deadlines to complete learning materials.
Technology – is “”digital electronic, digital, or multimedia tools used to achieve a goal more efficiently or effectively”” (Magana & Marzano, 2014, p. 8).
Technology Integration – an integrated learning experience designed by the teacher that allows the students to have partial control over, when, where, and how they will learn using a digital format and platform (Martin, 2016).
Significance of the Study
The topic of this study is chosen because of observations seen at the building and district level for professional development in a various districts and across grade levels. In addition, many industry leaders are already successfully implementing gamification to motivate employees through points and badging systems. If gamification has proven successful in the world outside of education, can it be applied to professional learning of educators? If teachers are expected to be the global learners and leaders of their students, then they need to have opportunities to experience learning similar to the ways and methods their students are expected to learn. They will also be expected to navigate technology effectively and become independent learners. The significance in this study is the need for teachers to see how gamification can increase their own personal learning with the freedom of choice in a gamified atmosphere, and then apply those same concepts to their own teaching pedagogy.
This research study will focus on teacher perceptions of how professional learning is the most beneficial to teachers when using technology integration and gamification. Technology is such an integral component of the ever changing classroom, but how teachers and administrators integrate technology to the best overall outcome goals of their professional development is a new learning frontier (Lawless, 2007). Shpakova, Dörfler, & MacBryde (2017) found that professional learning that was technology driven and gamified, had an increase of rates in high-order learning, problem solving skills, utilization of technology itself, and peer cooperative skills (Shpakova et al., 2017). Additional studies suggest that implementing multimedia, incentives, and personal choice are all factors for increased employee engagement when implementing effective professional development (Badri & Mohaidat, 2016). Researching teacher perception on gamification of professional development will be revelatory and informative for the researcher.