Using Games to Drive Engagement in the Classroom

By Jamey McIntosh, Realityworks RealCareer Product Manager

Note: This article was originally published in the April 2015 issue of the American Welding Society’s Welding Journal. AWS members can read the complete article on page 48 of the current issue. Not a member? Click here to join and access this monthly welding and metal fabricating industry publication. 


I remember hearing years ago what the 21st century would bring: flying cars, robots and virtual reality of the Star Wars world. At the time, it seemed like the 21st century was far away. Now, we are over a decade into it and technology has indeed advanced. We are now challenged with how can we use it to create engagement in education and provide today’s students with high-quality, job-specific training. Technology has many names and faces in education, but one way that it has risen to become a star in education is through games.

Games often get a bad rap in education as they can be seen as a distraction or as rudimentary. However, a new level of gaming exists that has shown great promise in education: “serious games” and “gamification.” These ideas are a new way to use technology, engage the interest of the current students – the gaming generation and create new ways of thinking for Career & Technical Education (CTE). CTE is the leading area of education that can support specific training for in-demand jobs and can help create college and career ready students.


Serious games are defined as games designed for a purpose other than pure entertainment. Used by industries like the military, health care, emergency management and engineering, serious games go hand in hand with another type of gaming focus: gamification. Gamification is defined as the use of game thinking in non-game contexts to engage in problem solving. We see this sort of gaming being frequently used by companies through rewards tracking, incentives, number of days without accidents on the job, etc.

These tools have become of great interest because they are engaging and they increase student’s learning levels. The Education Arcade at MIT states that “game players regularly exhibit persistence, risk-taking, attention to detail and problem-solving, all behaviors that ideally would be regularly demonstrated and encouraged in school.” In fact, 70 percent of teachers said that using educational video games increases student engagement in their classes.

American Welding Society members, log in to read the complete article on page 48 of the April issue. Not a member? Click here to join.

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