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Should Teachers Use Rewards in Their Classrooms? Part Three: The Impact of Gamified Learning, Tangible and Intangible Rewards

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Show Notes:

For the last two episodes, we've explored the idea of using rewards in the classroom and examined the research behind how rewards may or may not motivate students to learn. It's fascinating how our perspectives have changed over the decades. In fact, recent research suggests that giving students extrinsic rewards can actually be a catalyst for intrinsic motivation. Today, we're exploring an interesting approach that has really taken off since the pandemic.

That’s right, I’m talking about gamified learning. This approach refers to the application of game design elements and game principles in non-game contexts to enhance learning and motivation. Some elements of gamification include competition, cooperation, and point scoring. Informed by current research, we discuss how this approach is motivating for students and helps them engage in learning. 

This strategy became increasingly popular during the pandemic and with online or virtual learning, and the same ideas can be adapted for implementation in a physical classroom setting. Keeping research in mind, I share ways gamified learning helps students take more active responsibility for their learning and how can potentially improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Now, one might argue that competition shouldn’t be a part of a classroom environment. However, I would counter that the idea that competition is a natural part of our life outside the classroom, so why not teach kids the skills to be resilient in a controlled and safe environment?

You might be thinking, this all sounds great, but how does this apply to rewards in elementary classrooms? Well, just as we learned in previous episodes, having a winner and extrinsic reward can serve as a bridge to intrinsic motivation, which is exactly what gamified learning does. To help inspire your imagination for how you can begin to incorporate gamified learning in your classroom, I’m sharing five strategies you can apply right away.

I found this series to be fascinating, and it really opened my eyes to discover new ways to motivate students and engage them in their own learning. Regardless of your perspective on classroom reward systems, it’s important to remember that rewards don’t replace excellence in teaching or building relationships with your students. However, it can serve as a way to grow your class community and acknowledge and celebrate the unique talents and gifts of all your students.

Inside this week's show, you'll learn:

  • The impact of gamified learning on students and the value of tangible and intangible rewards 
  • Clarification on gamification in learning and the goal it has to maximize enjoyment and engagement by capturing the interests of learners to continue learning
  • Exploration of the research attributed to the role gamification can play in classroom teaching along with the role competition should or shouldn’t have in a classroom setting
  • Five ways gamification strategies contribute to intrinsic motivation and examples of how to easily implement them in your classroom

Links & resources mentioned inside this episode:

I hope this information is helpful as you prepare for your first, second, or third year of teaching. Until next time, remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one.

πŸ’› Lori

Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor

Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at and at

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