What do crossword puzzles have to do with the American Civil War?

According to a 2020 study published in Participatory Educational Research, playing games can enhance social studies education. Gamification – using game-based elements such as point scoring and peer competition – not only helps students do better in school but makes it so they want to be in class. And what administrator, principal, or teacher doesn’t want their students to want to be in school?

Using gamification in social studies education with student sticker chart.

Increasing Academic Success

The study, The Effect of Gamification Activities on Students’ Academic Achievements in Social Studies Course, Attitudes towards the Course and Cooperative Learning Skills, looked at two groups of about 30 students enrolled in a social studies course. One group was taught using a traditional teaching method, while the other engaged in gamification. Each student took an academic achievement test before and after the experiment. When the researchers compared their scores, they found gamification had improved students’ academic performance.

The researchers suggested this method helps students do better in school because “the most prominent feature of gamification is to enable abstract experiences to be transformed into concrete ones, which can build a bridge between theoretical learning and applications.”

Since social studies involves so many abstract concepts – such as democracy, freedom, and justice – students can benefit from learning history, geography, and economics through gamification.

Children actively participating in social studies class with positive student attitude.

Improving Student Attitude

The researchers measured each students’ attitude toward the social studies course before and after the experiment using factors such as love, interest, and motivation. Sure enough, the students who learned through gamification had a far better attitude about the course than their peers.

“Games can enable a child to build relationships with the environment, express emotions, gain experiences, have a good time, relax and find solutions to the problems,” researchers said.

By integrating gamification into your school’s social studies curriculum, students will enjoy coming to school to learn and engage with their teachers and peers.

Active participation in class

Ensuring Active Participation

“Gamification offers students opportunities for cooperation, competition, and active participation in the learning process,” the researchers explained. “This process … presents the opportunity for the students to express their ideas and feelings and increases their creativity.”

When students actively participate in class, they are less likely to feel bored, get distracted, or misbehave. Using gamification can help your teachers decrease behavior issues at your school and improve student learning.

How to Integrate Gamification into Social Studies Education

You can help teachers use gamification in their social studies curriculum by offering professional development that shows them how. Teachers may also need extra funds to create rewards or badges for their kiddos.


Social studies is all about understanding what caused historical events and how they still influence people today. By using gamification to increase student interest and participation, children will learn from the past and make better decisions for their future.

Studies Weekly Online uses gamification to increase student motivation. Try it for 60 days – FREE.

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