Interested in spaced learning and distributed practice? Then download our free Primer on Spaced Repetition and Feedback Loops. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about these concepts so you can incorporate them in your own training.
Many of our customers are first drawn to Knowledge Guru because they are looking for a serious game. They want their training to be more game-like and fun for learners. But as much as we are believers in the power of games to improve learning outcomes, the fact that Knowledge Guru is a game is not as important to the learning value as the learning principles we built into the game’s design.
Any game becomes useless for learning unless learning is carefully built into the game mechanics and game elements. In the case of Knowledge Guru, we use three research-based learning principles within the game to help players acquire knowledge. These principles are at work in every Knowledge Guru game, no matter what content you put into the tool (as long as you write your question sets correctly!).
Here’s a brief overview:
It’s intuitive, really. We need to repeatedly study material in order to remember it. In Knowledge Guru, game questions are grouped into question sets, which are groups of three questions. Each question set is linked to a learning objective in the game. Each question set teaches one piece of information, but the three questions each approach it in a different way. Question A might be fact recall, Question B a true or false question, and Question C a scenario question where learners apply the information in context. More about creating question sets here.
Another way to think of repetition is practice testing. A 2013 report by the Association for Psychological Science rated Practice Testing as a “highly effective learning tactic.” Giving learners more evaluations aids in further learning… and each path in the Knowledge Guru game is another mini “evaluation” or challenge learners must complete. Because the information is brought to mind multiple times, it is easier to remember. This is similar to the learning benefit found from using flash cards.
Sometimes referred to as distributed practice, spaced learning happens when we space our learning out into small chunks over time. The same Association for Psychological Science report referenced above found that intentionally breaking learning into smaller bits and spacing the practice out builds long-term memory better than other study methods.
We use spaced learning in a “macro” and “micro” way within Knowledge Guru. The most obvious is the Guru Grab Bag mode, which contains all of the questions from the normal game mode, but is only unlocked when learners complete the regular game. By returning to the game days or weeks after completing it, the learning is reinforced.
Spaced learning can even be beneficial if the repetitions are spaced only a few minutes apart. Since the three questions in a set are placed on paths A, B, and C, learners are exposed to the same information after short breaks (if they complete the topic in one sitting).
When learners get a question right in Knowledge Guru, three things happen:
- They move on to the next question.
- Points are awarded.
- Depending on where they are in the game, achievements are earned.
In this way, the game is providing feedback to players for the performance. It’s saying “Good job! You’re getting it!” When players get a question wrong, they receive immediate feedback explaining their misstep, and the following things happen:
- Points are deducted.
- The game provides an explanation of the mistake.
- The learner returns to the same question and must try again.
Instead of merely letting players get the answer wrong, the game immediately corrects them and helps them learn why they answered incorrectly. This is how Knowledge Guru helps people learn content, rather than simply evaluating them on how much they already know.
It’s More Than Just a Game
While gaming is central to Knowledge Guru, we see the learning principles behind the game as the most valuable element of the product. We’ve aligned our efforts so each enhancement and iteration uses the principles of spaced learning, repetition, and immediate feedback to help people acquire knowledge faster.