What classroom strategies can contribute to or detract from "flow" ?
"Game designers know that players walk away from games that are either too easy or hard. Finding that 'sweet spot; for the gamer is what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow found in Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology. Flow is a state of heightened focus and immersion one experiences while participating in activities such as art, play, and work" (Matera 2015). So this an an experience where the gamer forgets about everything else and is solely focused on the game they are playing. Matera goes on to talk a lot about creativity. "He defines flow as the creative moment when a person is completely involved in an activity for its own sake. He says, 'When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life'" (Matera 2015). This means that creativity is a large part of experiencing flow. Creativity alone is not enough though. Berkling & Thomas (2013) discuss how humans are motivated to work on difficult tasks when there is a purpose, autonomy and some sort of mastery involved. Sillaots (2014) concludes something similar in that goals must be clear and the activities must be organized in an engaging way for participants to become immersed. To achieve flow Sillaots (2014) suggests the following:
Another argument to include games comes from Willis (2011) who is a neurobiologist. She states that "games insert players at their achievable challenge level and reward player effort and practice with acknowledgement of incremental goal progress, not just final product. The fuel for this process is the pleasure experience related to the release of dopamine." When dopamine is released we experience pleasure. If you get feedback that tells you that you are correct you want to continue to experience this. "In a sequential, multilevel video game, feedback of progress is often ongoing, such as accumulating points, visual tokens, or celebratory sound effects, but the real jolt of dopamine reward is in response to the player achieving the challenge, solution, sequence, etc. needed to progress to the next and more challenging level of the game" (Willis 2011). Games can provide targeted instruction at the students' level helping them to continue to try a challenging task.
One thing you need to give careful consideration to before changing your classroom to include gamification is how fast and how many changes you plan to introduce. Berkling & Thomas (2013) state that "the most important changes will be to use gamification elements without naming them explicitly and to introduce change from traditional style classroom to learning environment very slowly." It is not good to change everything at once. I am in total agreement with this because everything that I have tried to do all at once has at least partially flopped, if not fully flopped.
Berkling, K., & Thomas, C. (2013). Gamification of a Software Engineering course and a detailed analysis of the factors that lead to it's failure. In 2013 International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from https://www.researchgate.net/
Matera, M. (2015). Explore like a pirate: Engage, enrich, and elevate your learners with gamification and game-inspired course design [Kindle Edition]. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.
Sillaots, M. (2014, October). Achieving Flow through Gamification: A study on Re-designing Research Methods Courses. 8th European Conference on Games Based Learning, 2. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/
Willis, J. (2011, April 14). A Neurologist Makes the Case for the Video Game Model as a Learning Tool. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/neurologist-makes-case-video-game-model-learning-tool