Trends in Adult Education Part #2: Implications – Putting Theory in Practice Gamification and Gender Equality


image source Pixabay


In Part # 1 Trends, I mentioned that I thought that gamification could increase the fun factor of learning thereby increasing motivation. When I took a look at some of the motivational theories – and there are a lot of them – the one that seem to fit in with my fun factor theory was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory.

Csikszentmihalyi as cited in The Pursuit of Happiness (n.d.) states:

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (The Pursuit of Happiness, n.d., para1).

So, the fun comes not from any one element (like those identified by Scott and Neustaedter (2013)), but from the combination of elements that allow the individual to push themselves to learn and succeed at “. . . something difficult and worthwhile” (The Pursuit of Happiness, n.d., para1).

This is something I can relate to. I love that feeling I get when I am skiing or trail running or canoeing or doing yoga or even when I’m learning something new that is really cool like motivational theories (really :)) time flies by, I forget to eat, I live in this state of flow until I get frustrated or bored and then feel compelled to move on to something else.

Marczewski (2015) in the article Grinding to Mastery and Flow presents an excellent graph that shows how flow happens when the game is in the sweet spot between skill and challenge. It is important to note that flow isn’t completely without variance and there can still be moments when the challenge is too much or too little hence the little zig zag pattern that appears in the sweet spot; but if the challenges stay too hard or if it stays boring you drop out of flow and you move on to something else.

The prospect of having students be in flow is pretty exciting to me but is it realistic? Penny and I (both flow enthusiasts) talked about the barriers we have noticed to getting into the flow like being able to focus and being at the same skill level as the other people you are interacting with. These are definite considerations when teaching a group of students.

Summary: Putting Theory into Practice

  • Elements that are to be gamified (like feedback and progression for example) need to be based on proven instructional strategies:
    • When giving feedback during the game consider it like an assessment for learning which is a “. . . a dynamic and ongoing conversation between the teacher and the learner – the goal of which is that the learner comes to better understand and consequently own the process for their own learning” (Fenwick & Parsons , 2009, page 157, 168).
    • When creating progression in the game use Blooms Taxonomy to guide how to increase to higher levels;
  • Consider the level of challenge that the game will provide – it needs to be difficult but not too difficult for the students;
  • Create an environment where the students can focus;
  • Ensure that the technology won’t get in the way of learning – there is nothing is worse than having unexpected technological problems and having no back up plan.

I have given a lot of thought of how I could apply gamification to the courses I teach. One of the courses is a 6 hour face-to-face workshop that has a set curriculum and is quite frankly awful. Whoever created it was completely unaware of the principles of andragogy and thought that providing 6 hours of power point presentations and 2 quizzes was going to provide a rich learning environment. While I won’t go into the details of how I am going to tackle reformatting the material (yet again) I will say that I have decided to replace the 2 quizzes – which I did as a group anyways as it provided more learning than having people do it on their own – with a jeopardy game.

Using the jeopardy game format I will be able to apply the elements of freedom to fail, rapid feedback and progression that Scott and Neustaedter (2013) identified. I will have the class break up into groups of 3 for collaborative learning. I will also create a final class challenge question so that ultimately, the teams will all be working together. For a little extra fun I will provide treats like candies and such to everyone. I need to ensure, however, that the questions are of the appropriate level of challenge.

As technology develops and apps become more readily available, I may have the opportunity to individualize a program to create games and enhance learning for my specific subjects. For now, I am content to try gamification using simple technology like power point or even paper based games. I will watch with interest as to where gamification in education will go in the future.

Gender Equality


image source pixabay

The consequences of gender inequality impact all of us “Gender segregation in career choice results in talent loss for the individual as well as for society” (OECD, n.d.,p 9).

As a nurse educator this really struck home. Nursing, especially maternity nursing, is an almost exclusively female dominated specialty. Having been in nursing for almost 30 years I remember how much discrimination the two men in my training program experienced when they did their maternity specialty. Patients and nurses refused to allow them in the room and yet, curiously, had no problems letting the male doctors in the room.

Reading about gender equality has really gotten me thinking about what it is in maternity nursing in Canada that continues to keep men out. A friend of mine told me that in Australia they have had male midwives for 20 years now. Why is taking us so long for us in Canada to shake the stereotypes? Why don’t we understand that the care of labouring and post partum women would be enriched by having men on board as care providers and as educators?

I think we need to start by recruiting more men into nursing. We need to start showing images of male nurses in professional nursing magazines and in social media. We need to start by ensuring that men are not being exposed to gender bias when they are primary school and we need to actively recruit men from high school to come into nursing.

We also need to ensure that programs are evaluated for hidden curriculum. Evaluation for gender sensitive teaching (n.d.) offers an evaluation guide that instructors can use to evaluate their course (including teaching didactics, students performances and instructor performance).

Men have the right to be able to chose their profession just as much as women. I am hopeful that as society becomes more aware of gender diversity it will translate for more freedom for men to come into nursing.


Evaluation for gender sensitive teaching (n.d.) Project e-qual – Teaching, Gender, Quality University of Fribourg. Retrieved from:

Fenwick, T.J. & Parsons, J. (2009) The Art of Evaluation A Resources for Educators and Trainers Thompson Educational Publishing Inc Toronto, Canada

Marczewski (2015) Grinding to Mastery and Flow Gamified UK Gamification Consultancy. Retrieved from:

Merriam, S.B. & Bierema, L.L. (2014) Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (n.d) The Pursuit of Happiness. Retrieved from:

OECD (n.d.) Trends Shaping Education 2015 Spotlight 7, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from:

Stott, A & Neustaedter, C. (n.d.) Analysis of Gamification in Education Retrieved from:

Teaching To Promote Gender Equality (n.d.) Center for Teaching Excellence University of Virginia. Retrieved from:



















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