How gamifying education can improve learning


Keeping students stimulated and engaged with the content is an ongoing battle educators face.

As the upcoming generations of students are digital natives used to having stimulating content and activities at the touch of their fingertips, teachers have been increasingly incorporating games into their curriculum. This innovation is called gamification, and it might just be the future of learning.

Benefits of gamification in education

The gamification theory in education states that students learn best when they are having fun. And, more specifically, when they have goals, targets and achievements to strive for.

  1. Higher level of engagement: Gamified learning modules are stimulating and satisfying to students as they provide challenges and track progress. As students finish learning materials and reach milestones, they receive recognition, which provides positive affirmation before leading them to a new more challenging level. This process emulates most video game formats.
  2. Improved retention: Incorporating games into learning also helps students retain more of what they learned. In fact, studies have shown that gamification actually increases knowledge retention by nearly 40 percent, proving the method to be extremely effective.
  3. Connects education to the real world: Gamified learning creates a risk-free simulated learning environment where students can safely learn real world skills. When facing situations where these skills are needed, applying them successfully will be easier, setting them up for success in the future.
  4. Students are excited and motivated to learn: A gamified model of learning can be addicting to students who are motivated by constantly striving to reach the next level. Game mechanisms like rewards release dopamine to the brain which gets students hooked on learning new concepts.

Gamification and Duolingo case study

The language learning platform, aiming to provide accessible education to the world through their free version of the app, uses the Octalysis Framework created by gamification expert Yu-kai Chou. This essentially analyzes factors that drive human motivation, which they leverage in the platform.

The Octalysis Framework has eight aspects that contribute to effective gamification used in Duo Lingo:

  • Epic meaning and calling: making the user feel as though they were chosen to do something or called upon to complete a task
  • Development and accomplishment: celebrating every little win with users
  • Empowerment of creativity and feedback: users can try different combinations and are rewarded for creativity
  • Ownership and possession: users are able to create an account that shows off their progress
  • Social influence and envy: users can see progress of others and show off their own with social-media-like elements
  • Scarcity and impatience: motivating users with different exclusive levels based on success and consistency
  • Unpredictability and curiosity: changing up the software to keep users on their toes
  • Loss and avoidance: motivating users through the fear of losing something

Gamification in the E+DIETing_LAB project?

E+DIETing_LAB, a project created to contribute to the improvement of education among nutrition and dietetics students through experiential learning, has been integrating gamification into its innovative training structure. The project sees this type of learning as a solution to the lack of practical learning experiences accessible to dietetics students.

One of the ways in which this project plans to gamify its teaching strategies is by experimenting with simulation-based learning. By dealing with virtual patients, students can experience real-world situations in a virtual environment. In this way, students can make mistakes and learn in a safe and controlled environment.

In February, members from the project met up in Poland to discuss the prototype of the digital self-learning platform. The meeting was attended by the other universities involved in this project, including the University of Valladolid (UVA) in Spain, St. Pölten University in Austria, the Universidade do Porto in Portugal, AP Hogeschool Antwerpen in Belgium, Jan Kochanowski University (UJK) in Poland, and, of course UNEATLANTICO.

Quality measurement procedures, led by the UJK, were also carried out during the reunion, along with the creation of an evaluation system to assess trainee’s experiences with the virtual patient.

“It has been a very enriching period because we are now discussing our achievements and next steps to develop a suitable bot that will help students and also dietitians and nutritionists to improve their training, with the aim of providing the most appropriate nutritional care to patients,” highlighted Bárbara Pereira, from Universidade do Porto.

The virtual patient tool will continue to be tested in the coming months in order to give students tangible learning experiences.

A future of game-based learning

Gamified learning is a teaching innovation that has already seen success, and will undoubtedly continue to grow and evolve with time. As educators struggle to build programs that stimulate students and appeal to them in an increasingly stimulating world, gamification might just be the answer they are looking for. Gamification can be used in a variety of different settings from classrooms to workplaces, providing stimulating a learning environment that will set students up for success. Policymakers are even starting to lean into gamification to streamline teacher workload.

Overall, gamifying education gives students a sense of purpose, challenge and provides clear feedback along the way. Most importantly, it is fun!



#1: Updates from the E+DIETing_LAB: Developing Virtual Avatars for Dietetics

#2: Updates from the E+DIETing_LAB: Simulation-based Learning in Dietetics

Case study: How Duolingo Utilises Gamification to Increase User Interest

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Digital Lab for Education in Dietetics combining Experiential Learning and Community Service
Fechas: 28/02/22- 27/02/25
ANNOUNCEMENT: eRASMUS + KA220-HED - Cooperation partnerships in higher education (ROUND 1)

This project has received funding from Erasmus + call 2021 Round 1 KA2-  KA220-HED - Cooperation partnerships in higher education

National Agency of the applicant organisation: ES01 Servicio español para la Internacionalización de la Educación (SEPIE)

With the financial support of:
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