11 Assessment: The Game of School

This expression was perhaps the most prevalent in all our discussions about engagement in school. Every student immediately understood what it was and, if asked to define it, had a very similar definition.

The game of school is a marvel of extrinsic motivation. We create an environment where we make it very clear what success looks like. Students get rewarded for doing all the assignments the way they were told to do them. They act and dress in a way that is culturally appropriate to the teacher/school they are attending. If you conform, you win.

I pay my tuition for the degree, not for learning – A Student

It works. At a superficial level.

But a task completed is not necessarily a task well done. Or, particularly in a world with the Internet in it, even a task that was done by the student who submitted it. If my goal is task completion and not ‘learning’ then any task completed is a job well done.

If the student is only motivated to win the game of school they may learn, but learning is only really a byproduct. They are tasking.

Oh, I don’t learn at school. Learning is something I do on my own when I get home from school.


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Engaging Students in an Online Era Copyright © by David Cormier; Ghanem Ghanem; and Brandon Mailloux is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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