Learn how a mastery orientation in gamification provides the learner with a desirable learning goal. A focus only on winning in gamification may harm learning outcomes.
- Winning is not the same as mastery. Winning tends to be about a person's performance. Mastery is about a person achieving a desired goal. In other words, mastery is a person's acquisition of a new knowledge, skill, or behavior. When something is mastered, it's permanently part of that person's repertoire. Once you master a skill, like riding a bike, you will most likely always be able to ride a bike. Winning, on the other hand, it's about achieving a victory at a certain period of time.
It's about the performance on one day or at one time. Winning is fleeting. Think of it this way, in many sports finals, teams play multiple games to determine the ultimate winner. And rarely does one team win every game in the series. One day one team wins, the next day, the other team wins. There are new winners of races, sports contests, games, and gamification all the time. Only a few people can win at an event or in a gamified learning experience.
But almost everyone can master a new skill, knowledge, or behavior, given enough time, motivation, and proper instructional design. This means that the focus or the orientation of the learner in a gamified experience, should be on mastery and not winning or performance. We can think of learners as being performance oriented or master oriented. Those with a performance orientation are overly focused on winning.
They tend to be concerned with other people's assessment of their confidence. Gamification experiences, if not designed correctly, can push learners toward a performance orientation. Especially if they're constantly emphasizing direct goals like time and points earned. Unfortunately, in this type of environment, learners will take fewer risks, won't experiment, and they will spend less time exploring. This is because they are afraid that doing so might negatively impact their score.
On the other hand, learners who favor a mastery orientation, are more concerned with improving their own proficiency. You want to create or implement a gamified learning approach that encourages mastery. There are several benefits associated with having a mastery orientation. Learners with this mindset accept errors and seek challenging tasks that provide them with opportunities to develop their skills, knowledge, or behavior. When given mastery goals, as opposed to performance goals, learners will have a stronger belief in their ability to succeed and will remain persistent longer.
They will also utilize more effective learning strategies. Research shows that people given mastery oriented goals, perform better on complex task. To help foster this type of orientation, designers should create achievements that acknowledge the effort learners are putting forth and support them during challenges. So create a badge, such as good effort, or dramatic improvement, to support the learner's effort, even if ultimate mastery is not yet achieved.
Designers must actively instill mastery orientation in the goals and feedback they create. Errors and mistakes should be treated as opportunities to provide corrective and targeted feedback, as well as encouragement. In other words, mistakes are learning and reinforcement opportunities. Additionally, a mastery orientation can be fostered by giving a learner frequent indications of progress, notification of improvement over time, and information about what has already been accomplished.
Remember, when implementing a gamified learning experience, focused on mastery, winning is a fleeting moment in time, while mastery is a permanent improvement in a person's skills, knowledge or behavior. A far more enduring effect and a better outcome.
- Games vs. gamification
- Making a gamified learning experience successful
- Leveraging dashboards and big data
- Engaging different interests of learners
- Creating effective feedback loops
- Writing effective questions
- Designing effective leaderboards
- Structural types of gamification
- Creating a motivating challenge