Mobile Apps Can Improve Student Engagement

How Gamification Through Mobile Apps Can Improve Student Engagement

Mobile Apps Can Improve Student Engagement
students engaged with learning by gamification , kbg1

Elementary education in the 19th century was just about teaching children some basic learning, usually the ability to read. When the 20th century came, the education system changed and was centered on three foundations: support child-centered education, scientific-realist education, and social reconstruction.

As we moved to the 21st century, the education system did not remain static. 21st-century education is about teaching students the skills they need to succeed in the modern world. And this effort can readily be supported with the use of modern technology and educational apps.

The progress in the education system is impressive, but there is one problem that has been impacting the education system: engagement crisis. Educational apps use the concept of gamification in education to fight the learner engagement crisis.

Gamification in Education

Gamification in education has given educators creative ways to motivate their students to participate and increase achievement in the classroom.

Andrew Stott from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology and Carman Neustaedter from the Simon Fraser University have published a study “Analysis of Gamification in Education

They wrote, “gamification refers to the application of game dynamics, mechanics, and frameworks into non-game settings.

Video games, as we know them, are designed to challenge the player to problem-solving scenarios. With each achievement are experience points, rewards, or medals. Some video games also require players to complete quests.

“Gamification can help enrich educational experiences in a way that students will recognize and respond to,” said Elizabeth Lawley, a professor of interactive games and media at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Many educators have already tried utilizing gamification in their classrooms with varying degrees of success. They do it by “changing the language” or renaming performances. For example, group presentations can be called as “completing a quest,” while taking tests can be renamed as “fighting monsters”. Receiving letter grades can also be replaced as “gaining XP points”. Leaderboards are also useful for motivating students to always pursue to be on top of the board.

Programmers and developers apply these techniques to make user-friendly, engaging, and addictive educational games. Some of the most-downloaded and most-used apps that use the concept of gamification are Duolingo, KidSmart, and ClassCraft.

The Benefits of Gamified Mobile Apps Can…

1. Build confidence

In his study in The Gamification of Education, Craig Miller listed the physiological benefits of gamification.

Games, or concepts alike, bring “good feelings” to the students, which means an increased levels of brain chemicals, including norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. But not only do they make the students happy, but they can also make them be more receptive to learning.

2. Improve problem-solving skills

Gamification can also trigger neural connections that simulate experience and “increase knowledge and skill sets”. The students (or players) will also have improved problem-solving skills.

Here’s what Miller found out:

“Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote about a state he described as “flow” in his 1990 book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. During flow, people typically experience gratification, immersion in the experience, are at peak creativity and performance.”

3. Teach students to adapt to difficulty (i.e. ‘grit') and take risks 

Gamified educational apps allow players to pick their choice. That means they get more freedom. Video games are designed to encourage players to explore without fear of causing unchangeable damage by giving them multiple lives or by allowing them to restart the level or game. Incorporating this inside the classroom is an effective way of increasing the students’ engagement.

“If students are encouraged to take risks and experiment, the focus is taken away from the final results and re-centered on the process of learning instead,” as stated in the study by Stott and Neustaedter.

4. Teaches students to accept feedback

Applying gamification in education also helps the student to take feedback. Karl Kapp, in his published study Games, Gamification, and the Quest for Learner Engagement, said, “feedback is a critical element in learning. The more frequent and targeted the feedback, the more effective the learning”. Educators can give feedback by using elements of game design through visual cues, frequent question-and-answer, a progress bar, or self-paced exercises.


Gamification in education alone is already effective in motivating students to participate in the class. Applied to educational apps, you’ll get a robust and more effective learning system that will teach students to solve problems, take risks, and accept feedback. Mobile apps have given children more fun and interactive way to learn things. They also give a healthy dose of competition and mystery — which is what most kids like.

Educational apps give students more reasons to love learning, and help to address the learner engagement challenge that has long been a problem for all educators.