Emma Claire Thorogood

Art & Design

Caldervale High

  • Digital Learning: Pupil Engagement

What is the effect of games-based learning on pupil engagement?


Games-based learning provides an opportunity for pupils to obtain instant and personalised, real-time feedback so that they are made aware of what they have learned and what they must work on to improve. Effective feedback to pupils is a staple method of educational practitioners to gauge the understanding of learners as well as a necessary means of gathering information used to then improve pedagogy approaches. The regularity of feedback is said to affect the validity of formative assessment (Trotter, 2006). This suggests that the more frequently teachers infuse their lessons with these methods, the more advantageous they are for the pupils. In particular, real-time feedback is beneficial to all, involving active participation, more exciting lessons which offer teachers rapid overviews of pupil understanding and learners the ability to sharpen their knowledge. Perhaps most importantly, real-time feedback ensures that pupils are responded to efficiently and no child is overlooked (McClelland, 2017).

Positive experiences which instigate enthusiasm within the classroom atmosphere lead to improved engagement and an increase in determination amongst learners (Kanfer and Ackerman, 1989), highlighting the importance of offering innovative resources to maintain pupil attention.

According to Felszeghy (2019), a 2018 study conducted in Finland reveals that the introduction of games-based learning such as the platform ‘Kahoot’ being used to compliment more traditional pedagogical approaches, led students to report an increase of interest in their studies. Improved attainment was achieved, with a significant increase in student grades, however it is ultimately unknown if the use of technology and games are to be credited entirely for these outcomes, as the introduction of games ran in tandem with repeated assessment by more traditional means. It is however concluded that student engagement was improved as a result of the Kahoot games.

Games-based learning can offer pupils the opportunity to repeat their tasks, competing with their former selves and allowing for continued improvement. A willingness to learn and raise game scores would show a growth mindset – an understanding that perseverance leads to the building of intelligence and performance and thus leading to an increase in motivation as a result (Mueller and Dweck, 1998).

Whilst it appears that a combination of gamification and real-time feedback are most likely to raise pupil engagement, (Voerman et al., 2012), warn that for feedback to be effective, vague comments can have an adverse effect on learning. To allow pupils to feel confident and have them readily engage with lessons, this research suggests, the introduction of game-based learning should be an additional tool to enhance learning, rather than replace other practices in lessons to avoid disengagement. Ergo, real-time feedback will be issued with the introduction of games as a means to gauge mostly knowledge retention and more thorough, frequent feedback will continue in several different forms. To offer the best environment to investigate changes in engagement, purely due to the gamification tools – no methods of feedback will be removed, only added.


The aim of this enquiry is to investigate the effect of games-based learning on pupil engagement and whether the real-time pupil feedback offered with much of these methods would alter future learning and teaching within the classroom. Additionally, it is a means to investigate where pupils are in terms of the learning process.

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