Many times when we play video games on a system, on our computers, or on our phones, we often get little carrots. These take the form of bonus points, trophies or badges.
Sometimes these trophies are because of some sort of achievement that took a lot of time and/or energy to get. Sometimes it is because you didn’t die in the first level.
Part of the pull of video games or apps are these virtual prizes. I don’t think it is always a conscience thing. We hear a bing and like Palov’s dog, we can’t wait to see what it was. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter. We just earned a badge or bonus points. Woo Hoo!! But there is a catch. The prizes can’t be completely random. They have to be tied to some kind of task or achievement. Also, they can’t be too long in coming otherwise we easily move onto another task or game that will reward our efforts.
What is the balance? People way smarter than me study this and design video games based on that information. And that’s not really the point. So what does this have to do with the classroom? I’m glad you asked.
- Kids like prizes– This could be something as simple as a ticket or a piece of candy, or at my school we have PAWS (tickets students earn for positive behavior.
- Timing is key- Just like our video games, our incentives should not be given at random. Neither should they be given too frequently or infrequently. Too many…they lose their value. Too few…they lose their influence.
- Balance- Just like the video games, I don’t know what that balance is. You just have to try a few ways to see how it will work on your students. There is no simple answer.
***I got an email from Class Dojo. Based on my use in the classroom, I have been given a fancy badge saying I’m a Class Dojo mentor at my school. I don’t know that it means much, but it still made me smile. Go play a game. 🙂