How Gamification is Useful in Adult Learning?

How Gamification is Useful in Adult Learning?

There is a secret in teaching and learning world:
What is taught is not what is learnt.

In all learning process, learners are at the center point. Learning take place exclusively through independent acquisition of the learner. There is a theory that shows playing games is a very good method in adult learning.

Constructivism is a theory of knowledge (epistemology) that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas.

In past centuries constructivist ideas were not widely valued due to the perception that children’s play was seen as aimless and of little importance. Jean Piaget saw play as an important and necessary part of student’s cognitive development and provided scientific evidences for his views.

Knowledge is internalized by learners

Knowledge is internalized by learners. Individuals construct new knowledge from their experiences. When individuals assimilate, they incorporate the new experience into an already existing framework without changing that framework. This may occur when individuals’ experiences are aligned with their internal representations of the world, but may also occur as a failure to change a faulty understanding. Mechanism by which failure leads to learning:

Matching new experiences and reframing our model of way the world works, we learn about our experience of failure or others failure.

Constructivism as a theory describing how learning happens shows Learners construct knowledge out of their experiences. (active learning or learning by doing)

Learner as a unique individual

Social constructivism views each learner as a unique individual with unique needs and backgrounds. The learner also seen as complex and multidimensional entity. Wertsch said social constructivism not only acknowledges the uniqueness a complexity of the learner, but actually encourages utility and rewards it as an integral part of the learning process.

The importance of background and culture of the learner

Social constructivism encourages the learner to find his or her version of the truth, influenced by his or her background and culture. Historical developments and symbol systems, such as language, logic and mathematical systems are inherited by the learners as a member of a particular culture and these are learned throughout the learners life. 

Young children develop their thinking abilities by interacting with other children, adults and physical world. From the social constructivism viewpoint, it is important to take into account the background and culture of the learners throughout the learning process. Wertsch mentioned this background also helps to shape the knowledge and learners create, discover and attain the truth in the learning process. 

Learner's responsibility

Glasersfield argued that the responsibility of learning should reside increasingly with the learner. Social constructivism emphasizes the importance of the learners being actively involved in the learning process, unlike previous educational viewpoints where the responsibility rested with the instructor to teach and where the learner played a passive receptive role.

Learners look for meaning and will try to find regularity and order in the events of the world even in the absence of full or complete information. Sustaining motivation to learn is strongly dependent on the learners confidence in his or her potential for learning

Instructors as facilitators, not teachers

Whereas a teacher gives a didactic lecture that covers the subject matter, a facilitator helps the learner to get to his or her own understanding of the content to play an active role in the learning process. So in this viewpoint emphasis turns away from the instructor and the content towards the learner. Brownstain said this dramatic change of role implies that a facilitator needs to display a totally different set of skills than a teacher.

- A teacher lectures in front of the class, a facilitator supports learners from behind.
- A teacher gives answers according to a set curriculum; a facilitator provides guidelines and creates the environment for the learner to arrive at his or her own conclusions.
- A teacher mostly gives a monologue; a facilitator is in continuous dialogue with the learners.

While it is advocated to give the learner ownership of the problem and solution process, the critical goal is to support the learner to be an effective thinker. Individuals make meanings through the interactions with each other and with the environment they live in.

Learning is an active social process

Learning is not a process that only takes place inside our minds, nor it is a passive development of our behaviors that is shaped by external forces and that occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities. The most significant moment in intellectual development occurs when speech and practical activity, two previously completely independent lines of development, converge.

Through practical activity, a child constructs meaning on an personal level, while speech connects this meaning with the interpersonal shared by the child and his/her culture. Holt and Willard mentioned a further characteristic of facilitator role in the social constructivist viewpoint:

Instructor and learners are equally involved in learning process and learn from each other as well.

This means that the learning experience is both subjective and objective and requires the instructor’s culture, values and background as an essential part of the interplay between learners and tasks in the shaping of meaning.

As Kukla said learners compare their version of the truth with the instructor and fellow learners to get to a new, socially tested version of the truth. This creates a dynamic interaction between task, instructor and learner.

This entails that learners and instructors should develop an awareness of each other’s viewpoints and then look to their own beliefs standards and values, thus this occur in both subjective and objective level at the same time.

Some studies argue for the importance of MENTORING in learning process.

The social constructivist model thus emphasizes the importance of the relationship between the student and the instructor in the learning process. In some learning approaches, this interactive learning includes reciprocal teaching, peer collaboration, cognitive apprenticeship, problem based instruction, web quests, anchored instruction and other approaches involve learning with others. Learners with different skills and backgrounds should collaborate in tasks and discussions to arrive at a shared understanding of the truth in a specific field.

Learner's goal is central in considering what is learned. It is important to achieve the right balance between the level of structuring and flexibility of the learning process. The more structured the learning environment, the harder it is for the learners to construct meaning based on their conceptual understanding.

A facilitator should structure the learning experience just enough to make sure that the students get clear guidance and parameters within which to achieve the learning objectives, yet the learning experience should be open and free enough to allow for the learners to discover, enjoy, interact and arrive at their own, socially verified version of truth

Constructivism for adult learners

Adults learn fundamentally different ways than children. Children have fewer experiences, so their brains are able to create new neurological structures when they learn. Adults have previously existing neurological structures due to their vast amount of experience, so new learning for adults requires new connections between already existing neurological structure.

There are several processes that are important for working with adult learners:

mechanisms for mutual planning, diagnosis of learner needs and interests, cooperative learning climate, sequential activities for achieving the objectives, formulation of learning objectives based on the disguised needs and interests, selection of methods, materials and resources and evaluation of learning. 

Adult learners should be informed why something is important to learn and be shown how to direct themselves through information. So the topic be presented should be related to the learners experiences. People tend not to learn until they are ready and motivated.

In addition, they need help overcoming inhibitions behaviors ad beliefs about learning. Personal relevance of the content, involvement of the learner in the process, the deeper understanding of underlying concepts are some of the intersections between emphasis in constructivism and adult learning principles
Learner are respected as unique individuals

Learners learn by experimentation and not by being told about what will happen. They are left to make their own inferences, discoveries and conclusion. It also emphasizes that learning is not an “all or nothing” process but that students learn the new information that is presented to them by building upon knowledge that they already possess. It is therefore important that teachers constantly assess the knowledge their students have gained to make sure that their perceptions of the new knowledge are what the teacher had intended.

In most pedagogies based on constructivism the teacher’s role is not only to observe and assess but to also engage with the students while they are completing activities, wondering aloud and posing question to the students for promotion of reasoning.

All discussed aspects are related to a very useful gamification methodology in adult learning: LENA Methodology which will be introduced in our next blog.


-WIFI Training Materials-
-Constructivism: A Theory of Knowledge, Journal of Chemical Knowledge, 2021-
-An epistemological glance at the constructivist approach constructivist learning in ,Dewey, - Piaget and Montessori , International Journal of Instruction, 2012 

Fatemeh Shakhsian

Sign in to leave a comment