The Gamification Hexad Saves My Classroom! Guest Blog

Well, this is a first, but I hope you will agree, it is a good first! I was lucky enough to be asked to scan a chapter of a new book that gamification and education expert Scott Herbert was writing. It was all about how he had been making use of my HEXAD in his classroom and it was excellent! I asked if he would be willing to write a little blog post about his experiences, what I got was this – and I could not be happier. Enjoy my friends!


Kids do not really care for school, which as a teacher obviously makes things a little difficult. I teach Grade 8 Sciences and when you are trying to teach someone about cellular biology or the history of light they have a real hard time connecting it to their world. It’s a slippery slope.

Last year I decided to gamify my entire classroom from September to June. It was a lot of work and took some real thinking but it has been a revelation to my students. They are working harder, producing better quality work and enjoy our 40 minutes a day together more than I have ever seen before. Statistically, as well I can prove it!

  • Looking at the raw numbers, I teach 100 students collectively and out of that 100, I have 49 students who achieved over 1500XP meaning just under 50% of the students I teach made an effort to complete all quests, going above and beyond what was expected. Anything over 1500XP means they went over 100%
  • Looking deeper at the numbers I have, again out of those same 100 students, 71 of them have achieved honours status (a grade of 80% or higher) right now in science which represents 71% of the entire grade. Comparing that to last year’s grade 8 classes, I had, out of a possible 119 students, only 68 that were above 80 to this point which is 57%.
  • Comparing those numbers, taking into account the fact that I had 19 more students last year, it represents a 14% increase in students currently achieving honours status.

We know in education there is a massive engagement crisis. Study after study is being published that continue to reflect a noticeable decline in school engagement. However, when I decided to attack this crisis head on there was one major issue I needed to tackle. Creating a gamification/program that would hit all of my player types.

Usually, for the unaware, people apply Bartle’s Player Types in their gamification but even Bartle himself warns against this – he even calls them “bandwagons”. His player types were intended for the world of MUDs (what we now call MMORPGs) but are frequently used in places they should not – like a fitting a puzzle piece into the wrong slot. It kind of produces something but it isn’t what you hoping for in the end.

In order to tackle this, I decided to use Andrzej’s Gamification Player Type Hexad to meet the needs and motivations of my different students (player types). The neat part here is that this (how it applies to education) was asked of Andrzej before and he produced this model …

Slide1 500x500 The Gamification Hexad Saves My Classroom Guest Blog
User Types and Learning

Now this model is actually perfect for the education world but I wanted to add something to this so I decided to tweak his model ever so slightly and came up with this one!

User types and learning v2 500x500 The Gamification Hexad Saves My Classroom Guest Blog
User Types and Learning v2

I decided to add The Disruptor (an original type in Andrzej’s model) to the middle because a) they can affect the learning of all player types and b) can be influenced by all player types depending on the scenario or disruptor style. Also, we all know that classes do potentially have a student or two who play the role of the disruptor – always.

The 6 Gamification User Types of the Classroom

The Player (a.k.a.: “What Do I Get Though?”)

We all have that student who needs to get something to do something. They are willing to do whatever you ask of them but they want a reward or privilege in return. That is how a player type is motivated. Offer them some sort of reward and you will see results

The Philanthropist (a.k.a.: “The Class Leader”)

This student loves to lead groups and volunteer to do things. They learn by helping other people out and are often the first type of person you turn to when you need help supporting someone who needs to get something done. When they are helping and teaching others they are the most motivated.

The Free Spirit (a.k.a.: “The Problem Solver”)

This type of student loves exploring the classroom and loves seeing what everyone is doing. Sometimes they seem lost and confused but they are totally with it. Their projects and ideas see “out there” at first but they always have a way of roping them back in to produce awesome work. Give them space, freedom and creativity and let them soar. When you have a problem the free spirit is your go to.

The Achiever (a.k.a.: “The High Achiever”)

This type of student is self-driven to be the best at whatever they do. They get a task and attack it head on. They can be competitive and help push struggling groups forward. They want to achieve their maximum at all times.

The Socialiser (a.k.a.: “The Social Butterfly” or “The Team Player”)

This type of student loves to go about the room talking to everyone. You put them anywhere and they find someone to talk to. They love to work in a group and they can be competitive in that scenario. If someone needs something they will be there to help.

The Disruptor (a.k.a.: “The Class Clown” or “The Black Hole” or “The Avoider”)

This type of student loves to seek out attention from those around him or her. They will crack jokes, interrupt lessons or attempt to derail class discussions. They can be tough to deal with. Providing specifics and surrounding them with the proper player type such as an achiever or a philanthropist will often keep them focused and moving forward.

Designing my game around these player types has truly changed my classroom. I create quests and bonus missions that hit the different styles of each learner. This creates different opportunities for people to lead and follow and that is a crucial skill all on its own! Gamification truly is a game changer in education!

Proxy image The Gamification Hexad Saves My Classroom Guest BlogIf you want to learn more about my classroom gamification please free to follow me on Twitter @MrHebertPE, contact me via e-mail [email protected] or follow my Blog at

Be gentle – I’m still new at this!

Thanks for reading!

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7 thoughts on “The Gamification Hexad Saves My Classroom! Guest Blog”

  1. Hi Scott, thanks to you and Andrzej for sharing!

    Are you able to share what was actually gamified in the classroom? 🙂 Did you determine at an individual level who fit what Player Type? As a result of knowing the Types, how was that information used to inform your classroom gamification designs?

    Also, just putting on my ‘social science hat’, it would be interesting to understand a bit more about how you know the observed grade increases were attributed to the gamification intervention.
    – Of course, higher grade attainments and engagement is excellent nonetheless, just keen to understand it a bit more 🙂

    If I understand the context right, as a research design you a ‘between-subjects’ comparison – testing for grade differences between two different groups, last years group and this years group. With this type of design, it can be difficult to demonstrate – reliably – that the effects are attributed to the gamification effort, or other possible determinants of learning and grade attainment. For instance, if the current group were the same ones you taught last year (without gamification), then any other possible determinant factors would remain constant, therefore providing greater reliability in the gamification effect (i.e. the intervention/treatment)).

    One example for instance, this years group could of had greater cognitive ability than previous years (i.e. a strong determinant of learning and academic attainment). Do you have any information on how well the current years class has performed in other classes, e.g. their previous years classes, or this year?

        • Hello Carl!

          Thanks for the questions!

          Everything in the classroom is gamified and runs the whole year. It has an overarching story and a running narrative, players select avatars at the beginning of the year, they earn a game currency and there is a card based reward system. I also have mystery, death/penalties, chance and so much more. As well as Andrzej’s Hexad I utilized Yu-kai’s Octalysis model of our 8 Core Drivers to ensure I had all elements. By using both models I was able to create work (quests) and motivators (rewards) for each player type and motivational type which allowed for different students to the take the lead on different tasks as well as different motivators so everyone feels connected to the game at some point.

          When it comes to grade tracking, at this point, it is a sole comparison between the previous year (their grade 7 year of science) and this year (grade 8 sciences). While I know scientifically this is not the greatest proof (as you mentioned) the engagement and connection to the material has truly sky rocketed. Having taught the course for 2 years prior without a gamification model applied to it the students often lacked the enthusiasm and drive I was looking for and since applying Gamification it has grown exponentially. I do have access to their other grades this year and most do reflect the strong showing I am having in science. In other cases, it does show a noticeable improvement in compared to other core programs. When questioned, students often tell me it is because they are “more engaged” or “more connected” to the materials in comparison to other programs/courses that they take.

          As a side here, I believe we put too much emphasis on grades at young ages instead of building an interest in the topic/subject/materials. When a student is engaged they often achieve higher compared to just getting by because they have to. For many the disconnect between the material and their lives proves too much and failure is not even a deterrent to some. So using this approach, I am wrapping in real, up to date science, mixing in their curriculum and creating something they truly want to be a part of. Less emphasis on grades (although, to be clear I do assess and grade as required) but more emphasis on connecting students to the sciences to hopefully create a want to learn more in the future as they progress further into school.

          Lastly, the results have been strong for student who want to take and learn science as they move into grade 9. The cohort I taught last year is continuing well at their new school and many parents have e-mailed me expressing that their children now enjoy the sciences more than they had in the past. Their gamified year peaked their interest so many are doing well and continuing the trend upwards where they left off. I will continue to monitor this as I progress forward both anecdotally and statistically.

          Hope that helps clear up some things Carl!

          Also, thanks for following me on Twitter 😛

          All the best,


  2. Just read it! It’s really good, although, I don’t share the view of Scott on the Disruptor. As much as they are actually disrupting the class, it’s not their player type most of the time. I’ve also been studying the 4MAT model on learning styles and 90% of the time (we run the test in my school every semester) those kids who tend to be disruptors, are actually Style 4 learners which are the kind of people who need space and opportunity.

    Style 4 learners do not need as many guides as the rest of students and are pretty hard to deal with because the education system of the world is based on their opposite style (number 2) which requires them to sit and listen.

    Take a read on the 4MAT model and I ensure you will understand your students a thousand times better.

    I would simply say that the Disruptor learns best under environments where they kind of “disrupt freely”.

    • Thanks for the insight Bernardo.

      I actually do share the same viewpoint on disruptors but it was tough to encapsulate in a shorter Blog post. I used the terms I did to keep up with the Gamification model.

      From my experience these students can thrive as a Type 4 learner (new to the 4MAT but it does make sense) but it also has to be an environment they trust, that is supportive and provides guidance. The type of student I am referring to as the disruptor is the student who is disinterested in school or attention seeking (to put it generally). If you put these students in an environment where they can disrupt freely it needs to be one designed for their success.

      Picturing the students I have that fall under that category it would be a recipe for disaster without the proper guidance but with the proper implementation great results could emerge so I totally agree . This is why when I have a particularly disinterested student in a class or subject (despite our best efforts as educators there is always one – even in my gamified classroom no less!) I try to keep them around an achiever or a player that I trust to help them build up some interest and boost their overall engagement or interest. Then when we have established the trust factor I let them flourish and “disrupt freely” as you said with some experimentation and all that good stuff. So far it has been working for me.

      Hope that made sense … 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!


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