Fernvale Primary School

GAMIFYING ATHLETICS (PRIMARY 3 & 4)

Introduction

The main challenge of teaching athletics is that for students to attain the learning outcomes of the syllabus, it requires proficiency and competency in the highly technical athletics skills. Time and effort are required on skills practices, and this led to the students with lower ability to have lesser motivation during athletics lessons. To tackle this challenge, the Athletics’ unit plans for Primary 3 & 4 levels adopt a Gamification Approach to allow students to enjoy and engage meaningfully in their learning and acquisition of knowledge and skills in the learning area of Athletics.

Gamification is an innovative pedagogical approach based on the utilisation of the design elements in video games to redesign methodological and didactic elements to increase motivation and adherence to the teaching and learning process (Ferriz-Valero et al., 2020). Ferriz-Valero et al. (2020) observed that gamification significantly changes the social behaviors of students to ultimately improve their academic performances. The Athletics Unit Plan adopts a Gamification approach to enable students to enjoy and engage meaningfully in cooperative learning with one another in “gamification” settings, and concurrently attaining the learning outcomes for Athletics.

In the design of the Athletics Unit Plan, five gamification elements were adopted and adapted to cater to the learning needs and profiles of our students (Abdul Rahman et al., 2018). These gamification elements include:

  1. Points and rewards
  2. Challenge
  3. Leaderboard
  4. Collaboration
  5. Feedback

The gamification elements of “points and rewards” and “challenge” take the form of organising the lessons as competition between the groups that are created within the class. The points are visually displayed on the “leaderboard” to show students which group is leading. The objective of having a “leaderboard” is to motivate students to “collaborate” – another design element – and work as a team in group tasks to improve their skill performance, so as to move their group up the leaderboard. The element of “feedback” was adapted in the form of providing students opportunities to observe and give feedback to one another to enhance their skill performance. The details on how the gamification elements are utilised in the design of the Athletics Unit Plan are illustrated below:

The 5 gamification elements are organised into a model that comprised of 3C concepts: 

  • Competition
  • Challenge
  • Cooperation

How the gamification elements are applied in each of the concept; and the synergistic relationship between the 3 triad concepts are described in the following diagram:

The Gamification Model: Competition, Challenge & Cooperation with Values as Core

Most importantly, the key to the effectiveness of this model lies at the core of the triad – the values. Values such as respect, resilience, integrity, and care are implicitly and explicitly taught and emphasised throughout the unit. 

The Gamification Model

The 1st “C”: Competition

In any gaming setting, “points and rewards” are critical elements in creating interests and motivations for healthy “competition”. The points are visually displayed on the “leaderboard” to show the students which group is leading. The “leaderboard” also provides students with information on the points they need to move their group up the “leaderboard”. This heightens students’ interaction, motivation, and engagement in learning. Points are awarded not only for skill performance, but are also accorded to values of respect, resilience, integrity, care and teamwork. Group Task Cards are used by students to set individual and team goals; and record their learning progression throughout the unit. 


Example 1: “Leaderboard” to show positions of groups

Click here for Completed Group Leaderboard

Click here for Sample points system


Example 2: Group Task Card for goal setting and score recording

Click here for Completed Group Task Card

The 2nd “C”: Challenge

A game without a meaningful challenge would not live up to the students’ expectation of fun and gratification. Foremost, within a group, members must work together to score sufficient “points” throughout the unit to defeat the “boss monster”. To achieve this, all members must play their part to support and help one another to level up their skills. To encourage efforts, points are awarded not only for absolute performance, but also for improvements. In this way, everyone would understand that they can contribute to their group regardless of their ability levels, and work in unison to overcome the group challenge tasks. Challenge also exist at the inter-group levels, where each group attempts to move up the class “leaderboard”, with the goal of achieving the top positions at the end of the unit. 


Example 3: Group Goal (Mission) to defeat the “Boss Monster”

The 3rd “C”: Cooperation

For cooperation, students interact, cooperate and work synergistically together to achieve common goals. Their common goals include defeating the “boss monster” (intra-group) and moving up the “leaderboard” (inter-group). To enhance cooperation in each lesson, opportunities were given to students to learn how to observe and give feedback to one another. In this way, they may develop their physical, social and affective skills collectively (e.g. displaying respect by listening to feedback). Some key considerations to facilitate cooperation would include:

  • creating mixed ability grouping 
  • supporting peer observation and feedback by engaging each student to observe one skill criterion (e.g. when a student is doing jumping for distance in a stationary position, one student will be observing the arm swing, another will be looking at the feet to check for double leg take off, and one to record)

Click here for Sample Task card


Peer Observation and Evaluation

Key Planning Considerations 

Based on my experience, these are the key considerations that you can use to design and implement your school’s Athletics Unit Plan:

Click here for Sample P3 lesson flow


Click here for Completed Task card (front)

Conclusion

Challenges faced:

  • Students need time to learn how to work cooperatively and synergistically. For example, learning how to observe and give/receive feedback to others with respect, integrity, and care. Explicit teaching is needed here, especially at the Primary 3 level.
  • Due to the competition element, a few students may not follow the rules to achieve their group goals. This can be resolved by reminding them that the objectives of the competition are to learn how to work together to improve their physical and affective skills; and character-building through teachable moments. 

Outcomes of the Athletics Unit Plan (Primary 3 & 4):

  • Students displayed more interest and motivation to learn athletics, and demonstrated the intent values of respect, integrity, resilience and care.
  • Promoted greater social interaction amongst the students, such as supporting and encouraging one another in their learning.
  • Developed better body awareness, hence skill performance, because of regular practice on peer observation and feedback.

Future exploration:

  • Digital Badge: To entice the students to level up to achieve the badge as they level up in the game
  • Leaderboard for Individual: Possible way to encourage students to do their best for in athletics. For example, the top 3 students will have their name and score to be shown for the category of jumping for distance with short approach.

Contact Us

Hope you like the presentation. I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me your feedback via toh_jia_bin_leonard@moe.edu.sg. Thank you!

References

Abdul Rahman, M. H., Panessai, I. Y., Noor, N. A. Z.M., & Salleh, N. S. M. (2018). Gamification elements and their impacts on teaching and learning – a review. The International journal of Multimedia & Its Applications, 10(6), 37-46.

Ferriz-Valero, A.; Østerlie, O., García Martínez, S. & García-Jaén, M. (2020). Gamification in Physical Education: Evaluation of Impact on Motivation and Academic Performance within Higher Education. International Journal of Environmental Research Public Health, 17(12), 4465.