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Post-16 Science: Pedagogy or Andragogy?

Published: Apr 1, 2022 3 min read

Gemma Peake

Read the blog, then join the discussion in the Teaching 11-19 Science group on STEM Community.

We need to get down to the serious business of discussing the application of gamification practices in post-16 STEM teaching. There are a range of reasons that we may currently feel the need to knuckle down and get on with delivering the oodles of content. 

Since the current Year 12 students have been in Year 9, they’ve been in a global pandemic. They’ve not had external examinations, have serious knowledge gaps and have missed out on practicals too. So how can using ‘games’ help?

I like to think of gamification as being the practice of making recall activities which look like a game and are therefore engaging and fun. When discussing our A level or level 3 students are we applying pedagogy or andragogy styles – does it matter?

What is game based learning pedagogy?

In an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education called ‘Games in the Classroom’, Anastasia Salter states that games offer great opportunity for experimenting with playful learning in all disciplines. Some may see this as being a fad, time consuming or too childish for students...yet on reflection it is by far the easiest way to get me as an adult to enjoy learning too!

We need to try to get our students to draw upon their scientific literacy and knowledge that in some cases is from pre-pandemic teaching. Maybe a short activity in the style of ‘starter’ (or whatever the trendy term currently is in your setting!) or a mini plenary to check a segment of understanding. A current favourite of mine is using the formats from TV game shows like ‘Only Connect’ – this tends to go down well and can be adapted to any subject area. TV game shows are successful for a reason – they are fun and allow the viewer to feel a sense of achievement, so this approach can be successful in classrooms too.

Gamification in education is not limited to the use of technologies, but the use of ‘old fashioned’ board game type activities and teacher-led games are still valuable. The oversized snakes and ladders is a classic which can be used with questions matching the coloured squares. Think of it as a way of breaking from the didactic to really boost student motivation, engagement and hopefully outcomes.

Use of gaming can increase the quantity and quality of information for assessment, and gives teaching staff more information about students’ learning gaps and progress.

This strategy also supports reluctant learners who see Sciences as ‘too hard’, or who have little resilience following negative outcomes in assessments. It’s clear that this can increase engagement and social interactions, developing thinking through talk. This is particularly beneficial given the enforced isolation many children have experienced over the last two years.

On a personal note – this is nothing new, but like many good things that I’ve managed to ‘Magpie’ over the past 20 years, it’s something that deserves thoughtful reflection, and most probably further research about the implication of outcomes rather than enjoyment of Science.

Further Reading

How Teachers Can Gamify Science - The Tech Edvocate

Gamification in Science Education. A Systematic Review of the Literature