This week on #XPLAPcamp I have posed the following Question:
I am intrigued by the “Player” player type in the realm of education because most educators, especially ed reform minded types, are so put off by the idea of external motivation. I completely understand the need to be cautious of over reliance on external motives; too much reward might cause an overjustification effect. This is the concept that if a person is rewarded for doing an activity they had perviously done for the love of the activity they will stop doing it if the reward is taken away. There is some evidence that this is a concern. I would contend that this ignores a fundamental truth of human nature – that some people are motivated by receiving an external reward. I think it also fails to acknowledge that in a system designed to provide a points based reward (i.e. grades in school) that students will want to be sure that they have at least a fair and secure base of points before they experiment and take risks. I have written my thoughts on this before in my Thoughts on students’ base needs and grading systems.
I want to offer an example of a “Player” Player Type motivation that all teachers are intimately aware of. An example that is celebrated and beloved by teachers. Something that is not likely to be thought of as an external motivator or “Player” player type engagement tool. I give you…
Yes, the humble jeans day is a great example of of the Player player type motivators. Check out how Andrzej Marczewski describes the player type motivators.
Players are motivated by Rewards; especially physical rewards and badges. If you are in education think about the last time your Principal declared a Jeans Day. My guess is that it was as a reward for a job well done or as compensation for completing an extra duty. For example, I have had Jeans Days after having to stay late for an after school program.
A particularly well applied use of Jeans Day, sometimes not intentionally, is when it is used as a Badge. At my school Jeans Day is often paired with a fundraiser. In fact there is a veteran’s organization that has made this a primary way of earning donations. The format is common – if the teacher pays $5 then they can wear Jeans on Friday. Personally, Jeans Day does nothing for me. I prefer to wear khakis at my most casual in the classroom; however, the Jeans are not meant as a comfort but as a symbol that the teacher participated in the fundraiser. Oh, Ms. So-and-So supports the troops because she is wearing jeans but Mr. Powley must not support them because he is in khakis. I have donated money and worn Jeans on many occasions simply to have the badge that goes with the fundraiser.
In either situation Jeans Day is nothing more than an External Motivator on some particular action. You may argue that it simply fosters compliance which may be true, but the money is still raised or the achievement still accomplished. It by no means replaces the other motivations that are present. Which I think is part of a well designed game inspired system. There are multiple layers of engagement and external motives are only a piece of the larger puzzle.
I am excited to see the various ways that the #XPLAPcamp campers come up with adding a well designed “Player” player type motivation strategy to the classroom!