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The Science Behind Why Achievements Motivate Students

“You’ve unlocked a new level!”

“Top-speed bonus!”

There’s something addictive about the ability to earn rewards in a video game based on your performance. It doesn’t matter what age group the game is targeted towards, nearly all video games today employ these performance “badges” in their interface. Apart from being fun, these rewards motivate users to keep playing and to try harder.

So just why do badges in games work? Because they tap into our basic principles of human nature.

Humans are programmed to find satisfaction in meeting goals, to feel motivated when our efforts are acknowledged, and even to compete with one another. Badges play to these aspects of our human psychology, leading users to want to work harder, spend more time practicing, and continue to meet our goals.

Typing.com is in the process of making adjustments to the way we teach kids to type. One change that’s on the way? New Achievement Badges!

With this update, we didn’t just want to make the program more fun for kids but wanted to capitalize on research that shows how badges can improve achievement.

Read on to learn more about 8 different science-backed ways that badges can help boost student performance.

Psychological Basis of Badges

1. Badges set our performance expectations higher

The best way to improve motivation? Recognize accomplishments. When students receive a badge improving their WPM or mastering a new letter, they know that their hard work has not gone unnoticed and are more motivated to keep reaching new performance benchmarks.

2. Badges increase our self-confidence

From a psychological standpoint, humans feel much more accomplished if they have set and reached manageable goals. When students consistently see that they can accomplish what they’ve set out to do, their self-esteem will soar.

3. Badges give us satisfaction

Not only will achieving goals help students feel better about themselves, but also about the work they are doing. People find more value and satisfaction in a task when it is linked to an end goal that rewards practice.

4. Badges secure a commitment to meeting goals

People are much more committed to meeting a goal when they have a measurable way to know when they’ve reached it. Getting their typing speed to 90 WPM is much more motivating than merely trying to type faster. By rewarding badges for specific milestones, students are more likely to be committed to working on those skills.

5. Badges provide guidance and feedback

Clearly laid out goals help students understand what different areas of a skill they want to work on. As students can earn a badge for speed, accuracy, and consistent practice, they’ll come to learn that all of these are important aspects of being a successful typist. Additionally, looking at where they are and are not earning badges will provide feedback as to which of these areas they most need to work on.

6. Badges help us get into “the flow”

Psychological flow occurs when someone feels that “click” when the skill they are practicing starts to come naturally. Badges help encourage students to pursue this flow by rewarding them as they progress toward full mastery of a skill.

7. Badges provide us with social proof

Human beings are wired to do what we see others doing. For example, everyone around you started working standing up, you would assume there is some benefit to a standing desk and would want to try it out. When students see their peers having great success with typing by practicing every day or sitting up straight, they’ve more likely to take the social cue and do the same.

8. Badges trigger motivating social comparisons

Call it competition or just a desire to keep up with the crowd, but students are often motivated not only by their own badges but the badges of others as well. When a kid sees a desk mate improve his accuracy to a 90% he will be motivated to meet the same goal or even surpass what his peer accomplished. This is not simply from a desire to compete, but also because they now see it as a possible goal.

So, get ready to sit back and watch how these different psychological phenomena come into play as your students test out the new Typing.com and try to earn as many badges as they can.

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