Week 3: What classroom strategies can contribute to or detract from “flow”?

According to Chen (2007), “Flow represents the feeling of complete and energized focus in an activity, with a high level of enjoyment and fulfillment. During the Flow experience, we lose track of time and worries. Indeed, our level of focus maximizes our performance in and pleasurable feelings from the activity. Flow is also called the optimal experience, or being in ‘the Zone’.” Not only have I experienced “flow”, but I’ve seen others experience it as well. I used to play video games with my brothers and I remember being so into what we were playing that my eyes would water because I wasn’t blinking enough. My mom could talk to me and it was like she wasn’t there until she stood directly in front of me, blocking my view of the TV screen. To be fair, I’m sure that was frustrating to both of us. According to Sillaots (2014), there are specific conditions to achieve flow. The conditions include:

  • Balance between challenges and users skills. Also constant growth of the level of difficulty accordance with the growth of skills.
  • Distractors are avoided and concentration is supported.
  • Tasks are fulfilled spontaneously and effortlessly. Activity must be rewarding for its own sake.
  • Achievable tasks – difficult but achievable through great effort.
  • Ability to concentrate on task.
  • Clear goals – it should be clear what is needed. How to achieve that, is open.
  • Tasks provide instant and rich feedback.
  • Autonomy – user is controlling her actions.
  • Deep but effortless involvement – concern of everyday life disappears – Immersion.
  • Concern of self disappears – Immersion.
  • Loosing the sense of time – Immersion.

The main problem that I can see in a classroom that detracts from “flow” is the fact that students are asked to sit quietly and listen to a teacher talk, which usually isn’t engaging. I remember sitting in class and watching the clock, willing the time to go faster, worried that I would fall asleep and the teacher would catch me. As an educator, it can be difficult to engage students, much less achieve “flow”, but it isn’t impossible. According to Aguilar (2012), “every lesson must have clear and laser-focused objectives — not because an administrator is going to come in and ding you if they’re not posted — but because without an articulation of a clear goal, students can’t attain flow. This is why we need to know what our students know and what they can do, and why we need to be acutely aware of their zone of proximal development (ZPD); this is why we need to do those diagnostics and KWLs, so we can match their skill level to an appropriately challenging task. This is why we need to design lessons and assignments that are rigorous and on the upper levels of Bloom’s, that ask students to argue and debate, create, and evaluate. And this is why we need to check students’ understanding every 10 minutes and use a range of formative assessment strategies so then we can adjust course and ensure that they’ll be successful with the task.” So, with these strategies in mind, as an educator, I am going to actively try to get my students to achieve flow.


Aguilar, E. (2012, March 27). Beyond Student Engagement: Achieving a State of Flow. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-elena-aguilar

Chen, J. (2007, April). Flow in Games (and Everything Else). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from ACM: https://blackboard.uas.alaska.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-338134-dt-content-rid-2561595_1/courses/201603_76581/Flow%20in%20Games.pdf

Sillaots, M. (2014, October). Achieving Flow through Gamification: A study on Re-designing Research Methods Courses. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267155607_Achieving_Flow_through_Gamification_A_study_on_Re-designing_Research_Methods_Courses



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