Teaching students about financial literacy can be a real uphill battle for financial aid directors and advisors. The subject matter is often seen as dry and complex, leaving young learners bored and detached from the important lessons in money management.

With the rise of technology and digital tools/learning, however, a new and innovative solution is on the horizon.

Enter gamification – an innovative approach to teaching that incorporates elements of games into the learning process. By turning financial literacy into a fun and interactive experience, educators can revolutionize how they teach crucial concepts to students.

But what exactly is gamification? How can it be used to create successful financial education programs? This article will explore the concept of gamification and its potential benefits for student financial literacy.

What Is Gamification?

First and foremost, gamification uses game design elements and principles in non-game contexts to engage and motivate individuals. It taps into a person's natural love for playing games, competition, and rewards to enhance the learning experience.

Gamification can foster a positive learning environment, providing students with immediate feedback and encouraging healthy competition. Through leaderboards and rewards, students can gauge their progress, compare themselves to their peers, and strive for improvement.

This sense of achievement and accomplishment serves as a powerful motivator, encouraging students to invest more time and effort into their financial education.

But one of the greatest benefits of gamification is that it encourages students to actively participate in their learning. They can face challenges, earn virtual rewards, and see how their decisions impact their financial situation – regardless of age.

Researchers from the University of Lisbon wanted to determine gamification's impact on students’ learning experiences and outcomes.

They incorporated gamification techniques into a Master's level engineering course for a semester, comparing metrics such as lecture attendance, utilization of classroom material, and more to the previous, non-gamified semester.1

The research team found that the engineering students showed a sizable increase in positive and productive classroom behaviors, leading to greater student success and satisfaction.

Incorporating Gamification Into Your Program

Now that we understand gamification's potential benefits let's discuss how to incorporate it into your student financial literacy program effectively.

Choose the Right Game Mechanics

When designing your gamified curriculum, carefully select gamification mechanics that best suit your objectives and resonate with your students. Consider incorporating challenges, simulations, and virtual rewards to create an immersive and engaging experience.

Incorporate Real-life Scenarios

Incorporate real-life financial scenarios into the game to make the learning experience practical and relatable. Allow students to make financial decisions that mimic real-world situations, such as budgeting for college expenses, taking on loans and smart borrowing, or investing in the stock market.

Foster Collaboration and Competition

Encourage collaboration among students by incorporating multiplayer elements into your gamified program (such as team challenges or cooperative gameplay).

You can promote healthy competition by implementing leaderboards or awarding badges for outstanding achievements, motivating students to push themselves and strive for excellence.

Provide Meaningful Feedback

Constructive feedback is vital in the learning process. Whether through immediate responses to their decisions or personalized progress reports, feedback allows students to assess their understanding of financial concepts and make informed adjustments.

Common Mistakes

While gamification holds immense potential for student financial literacy programs, it's important to watch out for common pitfalls and mistakes.

Superficial Gamification

Even though you are incorporating games into your financial literacy curriculum, don’t forget you’re working with young adults. Overly gimmicky or mandatory gamification can actually be harmful to the learning experience, resulting in negative outcomes for your learners.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that forcing individuals to participate in required gamification (or “mandatory fun”) results in decreased productivity and engagement.2 It's important to strike a balance between making the learning experience enjoyable and ensuring students are focused on the content.

Ignoring Diverse Learner Needs

Every student is unique, with different learning styles and preferences. When implementing gamification in a financial literacy program, it's essential to consider diverse learner needs and provide options for different types of interaction or gameplay.

To account for your college students’ learning needs, consider allowing students to choose from various game formats (i.e., competitive or cooperative game elements) or providing alternative methods for those who may not enjoy traditional gaming.

Lack of Alignment With Learning Objectives

Gamification should always be aligned with your intended learning outcomes. Don't incorporate game elements for the sake of it – consider how they can enhance student understanding and application of financial literacy concepts. The game elements should serve as tools for achieving the desired educational goals.

By avoiding these pitfalls, educators can leverage the power of gamification to transform student financial literacy programs into engaging and effective learning experiences.

Where to Begin?

Whether your university is just beginning to implement a financial literacy program or looking to enhance an existing program, incorporating gamification can be a game-changer. By immersing students in a rewarding virtual environment, you can capture their attention and help give them the financial literacy they need to thrive.

With iGrad's financial literacy platform, you can access a comprehensive solution combining gamification with crucial financial literacy content. From budgeting and savings strategies to student loans and credit management, iGrad provides comprehensive content that empowers students to make informed financial decisions.

Contact iGrad for a demo today, and watch your students become active, engaged, and successful in their financial futures.

An Immersive Learning Experience

Gamification has the potential to revolutionize student financial literacy education, making it both enjoyable and effective. Financial aid advisors and educators can create an immersive and engaging learning environment that fosters active participation, healthy competition, and practical skill development.

By leveraging game elements and principles, you can ensure that students not only gain the necessary knowledge for managing their money, but also develop the skills and mindset to take control of their financial futures.



1 - https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6624228/keywords#keywords

2 - https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2277103