Using Gamification Strategies to Cultivate and Measure Professional Educator Dispositions

Using Gamification Strategies to Cultivate and Measure Professional Educator Dispositions

Curby Alexander (Texas Christian University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2019010102


One of the most important outcomes of pre-service teacher education is the transition from assignment-oriented students to service-oriented education professionals. Faculty can assist in this process by cultivating professional educator dispositions within their courses. Gamification strategies can be an effective way to provide students with timely feedback regarding their progress toward professional educator dispositions. This study investigated the effectiveness of points, timely feedback, and leaderboards on cultivating and measuring specific professional educator dispositions among pre-service teachers. Data was collected in four domains - personal responsibility, intellectual engagement, professional ethics and stewardship, and supportive interactions- where gamification strategies were additively implemented over five semesters. Results from this study indicate gamification strategies, when bundled together to leverage motivating factors such as competition and personalization led to increased gains in the four domains of professional educator dispositions.
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Using Gamification Strategies to Cultivate and Measure Professional Educator Dispositions

In 1982, Atari attempted to ride the momentum from the summer blockbuster, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, by hastily creating a video game based on the movie while it was still surrounded by hype and good box office sales. Surely people who liked the movie would buy the video game and experience the same feelings when advancing through each level with their favorite characters. As it turned out, Atari learned the hard way that an idea based on a popular movie, when poorly designed, will not naturally lead to success. Thousands of copies of this game were unable to be sold and were eventually dumped in a landfill. Similarly, an estimated 80% of game-based or gamified initiatives will fail due to poor design (Petty & van der Meulen, 2012).

The same principle applies to teacher education: placing pre-service teachers in schools and requiring them to write lesson plans will not inherently develop effective education professionals. Pre-service teacher experiences and exercises must be carefully planned and intentionally target specific outcomes related to effective instructional practice; these outcomes cannot be left to chance. The entire spectrum of teacher knowledge and skills -- everything from knowledge of child development and theories of learning to skills in classroom management and instructional planning -- must be intentionally taught, supported, measured, and refined. Perhaps the most difficult of the teacher education outcomes to support and measure is professional educator dispositions (Hargreaves, 2000).

Pre-service teacher preparation marks an important transition in the professional lives of educators, moving from an orientation focused on personal achievement and individual responsibility to student achievement and responsibility for the success of others (Sutherland, Howard, & Markauskaite, 2010). Most of the gains pre-service teachers make toward professional behavior, including their commitment to teaching, task orientation, professional orientation, and self-efficacy, are incremental and achieved over a period of time (Lamote & Engels, 2010). A teacher’s professional orientation may include increased awareness of the importance of such behaviors as punctuality, preparation, reputation among those inside and outside the school community, contributing to the culture of the school, and continuous improvement through self-reflection.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of gamification strategies on cultivating and measuring professional educator dispositions among pre-service teachers. Specifically, this study focused on the effect of gamification strategies on pre-service teachers’ personal responsibility, intellectual engagement, professional stewardship and ethics, and supportive interactions. Each of these factors could be considered a precursor to the professional behaviors an educator will one day be expected to demonstrate in the classroom (Smith & Lev-Ari, 2005).

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