Examining the Possibilities: Gameful Learning as an Innovative Pedagogy for Teacher Preparation Programs

Examining the Possibilities: Gameful Learning as an Innovative Pedagogy for Teacher Preparation Programs

Beverly B. Ray (Idaho State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9232-7.ch002
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This chapter examines the efficacy of Gameful Learning, an emerging pedagogy, as a learning and assessment strategy. The theoretical foundation supporting its use is reviewed along with an emerging research base supportive of its use. The chapter also explores lessons learned from the initial integration of Gameful Learning into one junior level teacher preparation course. Recommendations for those interested in implementing Gameful Learning are offered. The chapter concludes by offering a set of concrete recommendations for future research regarding Gameful Learning's efficacy for teacher education programs.
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Theoretical Foundation

Gameful learning is grounded in an understanding of the role of games in supporting learning (Gee, 2003). Likewise, self-determination theory (Dechev, et al., 2014; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000), with its emphasis on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, (Holman, & Fishman, 2015) as drivers for competence (Ryan & Deci, 2001) and autonomous learning is important to consider. Autonomous learning occurs when the learner is asked to “solve problems or develop new ideas through a combination of divergent and convergent thinking” and is asked to do so “with minimal external guidance” from the facilitator (i.e., instructor) (Betts & Knapp, 1981, p. 30). Autonomous learning is reflective of mastery and personalized learning, sharing many of the same critical attributes and goals. As such, it is viewed as supporting a sense of competence which then serves as an intrinsic motivator. Within this context, choice is viewed as a form of “non-controlling instruction” (Ryan, Rigby, & Przybylski, 2006. p. 345) that serves to motivate the learner even as it allows him or her to demonstrate competence. Within the context of Gameful Learning, competence is further enhanced via the use of challenging tasks that demonstrate mastery of knowledge, skill, and/or dispositional learning. Likewise, it is possible that Gameful Learning can, to some degree, create a sense of presence for the learner that allows him or her to feel in control of the learning experience (Rigby, 2004).

Gameful Learning and Constructivism

Constructivist learning, with its emphasis on learner centric instructional methods (Piaget, 1959; Vygotsky, 1978), also informs understanding of Gameful Learning. Focusing on authentic, meaningful, and active learning along with learner choice, constructivism aligns well with Gameful Learning’s goals. Considerations regarding how to demonstrate knowledge, skill, or dispositional learning (i.e., show what you know) bring Gameful Learning squarely into this domain of understanding. Gameful Learning provides a safe place where trial and error (i.e., freedom to fail) can occur within an a flexible, but scaffolded environment, wherein learner needs are supported as much or as little as desired by the instructor or required by the curriculum (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Level Up: A term from gaming that relates to a player’s actions to obtain points or tokens that allows one, or one’s avatar, to progress from one level of the game to the next.

Gameful Learning: An emerging pedagogy grounded in elements of well-designed games that applies that understanding to the development of autonomous learning environments.

Pedagogy: The study of what it means to be a teacher along with an exploration of the process of teaching.

Assessment: A process of gathering, analyzing, and reflecting on evidence about learning. It is intended to provide purposeful evidence of what a leaner knows, can do, or believes.

Emergent Pedagogy: A new way of thinking about teaching and learning that is grounded in theory but is also experimental in nature and, therefore, in need of a supporting research base.

Innovative Pedagogy: The study of pioneering ways of teaching along with an exploration of how the process of teaching is impacted by those innovations.

Autonomous Learning: A learning process in which the learner engages in independent learning, including projects, and takes on a significant measure of responsibility for his or her learning.

Self-Determination: A right, and thus an obligation, in varying degrees to autonomy in matters related to one’s learning.

Well-Designed Learning: Learning that is designed to achieve one or more specific goals even as it creates a positive learning experience for the learner.

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