In intervention, the Math “Grind” requires the right reward

In a past article on gamification I’ve written that “Interactive engagement, not entertainment, is at the core of a computer game’s ability to motivate.  Finding ways to make math more interactive and more engaging is the key to making math software better as well.”

Students can and do work hard at games, repeating procedures and tasks until they succeed. This they refer to as “the grind.”  Students using an effective learning program like Ascend Math also do not mind the grind IF there is a substantial reward at the end.

We are all familiar with the intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation argument.  Moving on to the next level is a reward in nearly all games.  And, likewise, success measured by moving up in levels in math is its own strong reward.  However, today’s students have been conditioned by the games they play so often to expect more.

The addition of extrinsic motivation at the time of success can be very effective.  Taking a cue from games, this could be anything from earning items (gold coins) to being granted a special ability or the freedom to move outside the confines of the learning program however briefly.

If it is kept true to the spirit of the program and only offered as reward for “the grind” these extras can help maintain motivation.

More later.

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