Competition in the classroom setting can motivate students to learn specific skills. If planned effectively by the teacher, the competition will leave students feeling successful and a skill will be learned in the process.
Creates student engagement
The most beneficial aspect of competition in the classroom is that it engages students. Students, who may otherwise disengage by not paying attention, doodling, starting conversations, or causing other trouble, often become interested in the subject matter. For these students, there finally is a reason to pay attention.
Encourages recall of information
Often activities that have a competition component are most successful when they deal with recalling information. At younger ages competitive activities for math facts, spelling or basic grammar can be an effective way of encouraging children to remember those necessary parts of education.
Can be well-organized victories
Conscientious teachers know how to arrange teams for competitive class events so that the victories can rotate among the students. These teachers do not allow students to choose teams, which can exclude students and create a pecking order in the classroom. It can be arranged so students who struggle or take longer to answer questions are teamed up with students who adapt to competitive events easier. Teachers can try to stack the competitive questions so that the students who struggle have easier level questions. It is important if competitive events are in class that all students feel successful, if not on that particular day, then on a rotating basis. If the same students dominate and the same students fail repeatedly, then classroom competition is a failure.
Quite often students who are the most competitive are those who have an abundance of physical energy. When these students are expected to sit in desks for long periods without moving around, there is a tendency to have more behavior issues. Teachers who construct short competitive activities frequently may diffuse some of this energy. As a result, competition can aid teachers with behavior management.
Provides formative assessment
Selective use of competitive activities allows teachers to witness a formative assessment about whether students are mastering a concept or not. For the students who struggle with the competitive activity, the teacher may arrange for additional review, tutoring, or activities to encourage the student to master the concept.
Provides opportunity for Skype competitions
A recent trend is for schools to Skype with other school districts for competitions. By participating in Skype competitions, the students in the classroom bond together to compete against another school. Students strive to learn the material so they can compete with an opponent school.
Provides opportunity to learn sportsmanship
Not all students participate in competitive activities outside of school. Along with so many skills, teachers have the opportunity to teach children sportsmanship in a supervised environment. Teaching students to encourage classmates and congratulate the successes of others is important. Being able to win and lose graciously are communication skills that serve students well as they continue in school and beyond.
While incorrectly incorporated in a classroom, competition can be an ineffective or even detrimental activity, but teachers who judiciously and fairly utilize competition can read academic rewards.