Gamification in the Classroom - Enhancing Learning and Engagement
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Gamification in the Classroom 
Enhancing Learning and Engagement

August 3, 2023

Gamification is a hot topic in education. How do you take an activity students enjoy—playing games—and meld it with learning?

Philip A. Fabrizio, PT, DPT, EdD
Philip A. Fabrizio, PT, DPT, EdD

The idea behind gamification may be simple. The execution, however, can be more complex.

Over the past few decades, video games have become a pervasive part of young people’s day-to-day lives. These games incorporate addictive features such as fun challenges, achievement rewards, immediate feedback and social connection. These same types of features can be used in educational settings to motivate learners.

While most gamification techniques are digital, Philip A. Fabrizio, PT, DPT, EdD, is looking at face-to-face games which are considered "analog gamification". Specifically, Fabrizio is working to develop analog gamification techniques to help students in PCOM Georgia’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program learn anatomy.

“I am exploring the development of board games, puzzles, and card games as methods for learning,” Fabrizio explained. “I have used games where learners ‘act’ as anatomical components of the spine in the past and will be testing out a ‘card’ game to help our students review muscle function and nerve innervation.”

Key Points
  • Gamification leverages enjoyable activities to enhance learning, merging gaming elements with education to motivate students.
  • Analog gamification, such as board games and card games, offers innovative ways to teach complex subjects like anatomy in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
  • Dr. Fabrizio and fellow educators are researching motivation behaviors to optimize academic success for DPT students.

The goal of any of their novel teaching or learning techniques, he added, is to understand learners’ motivation behaviors associated with academic success and then leverage those behaviors toward success.

“Understanding motivation allows us, as educators, to position ourselves, our courses, and learners for success in the program,” he said.

Fabrizio’s interest in research dates back to his graduate school days. As a young graduate student, Fabrizio had the opportunity to study the physiological parameters of exercise. He then moved on to studying the effects of ultrasound on blood flow and then the effects of microgravity on muscle.

Now, he and other educators in the program are using their findings about motivation in the classroom to help students succeed, to design courses and assessments, and to guide novel teaching and assessment strategies.

“I have always had an interest in finding the answers and my latest line of research helps me to find the answers when teaching others to find the answers,” he said. “For me, research, especially my current line, is a way of giving back to the learners.”

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