Sense of achievement

Sense of achievement is the most important part of every game. On the one hand, it is easy to see it in any learning game because knowledge is your achievements. On the other hand, this sense of achievement can be significantly increased even with a right approach.

In my opinion, sense of achievement can be divided into 3 levels:

Level 1. Pure knowledge. I learn something new. I didn’t know it before. I feel good about it.

Level 2. Practical knowledge. I learn something new and I know how it may be used in the future. I feel much better about this knowledge because I also feel some practical sense in it.

Level 3. Desired knowledge. I have a goal and I feel that this new knowledge can bring me closer to my goal. This is the best achievement for me.

Let me show you some examples. Online courses become more and more popular edX, Coursera, udacity e.t.c. But at the same time the amount of people who drop off a course they have once started is also huge. I think it is due to a lack of achievement sense during the course and I also think that it can be increased.

Courses like “Basics of Python” definitely have a goal — to show you some basics of Python programming language so that you can use it in the future. The issue I see here is that it is hard to understand whether I am getting closer to my goal during the course. During that course I have only “Level 1” achievement sensitivity. It means that after each lesson I’ll think only “Ok. Today I learned something new” and nothing more. It is still some level of achievement, but can’t it get better?

It can get though. Adding some practical examples will definitely make any course better. For those who simply want to learn something new examples are an additional way to remember things. At the same time some people have a goal already when they start a course. It can be a pet-project or a startup idea they want to create after the course. They try to align every practical examples of the course to their goal. It gives them the highest level of achievements — Desired knowledge.

I remember I went through Gamification course on Coursera. I went through the whole course and didn’t quit because during that course I was working on a project where I could use my new skills. After each lesson in this course I felt like I achieved something important for me personally. I even went through that course once again right after I finished it just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

I was lucky to have a project or a goal that is fully align with the course. But it does not always happen. Sometimes, even if you have a goal in your mind when you start a course it can get lost because examples in the course become less and less relevant to your goal and you start losing interest. Your achievement level goes from 3 to 2 or even 1, when you are not even sure how to use this newly received knowledge in the future.

Authors of courses are trying to cover a broad community by having a wide spectrum of topics in their course. They are losing almost all of it during the course because students don’t feel that they are actually achieving something during the course. That’s why only small percentage of students who finished the course were so excited to start.

But what if we set a goal right for the beginning of the course? Here are a couple examples I came up with: “Learning basics of python while we create a web-forum”, “Creating a web-blog from scratch and learning Python from the very beginning”. Those topics illustrate the finishing goal perfectly. It is still might be not your initial goal when you start looking for a course, but it is fine. However, having tangible goal at the beginning gives students an understanding where everything is going in their studies and a sense of achieving something in the end of every lesson.

I want to give you a very last personal example here. I always wanted to learn how to play piano and I had two teachers on my learning path. The first teacher started from basics, she showed me what notes, chords were, she also explained to me how to make sounds. The second one started with question: “Alex, which melody you want learn how to play?”. I chose not a simple melody but the one I loved. Eventually she taught all the basics of playing piano while I learnt how to play my favorite melody.

Let’s move a teaching process from learning to doing and from doing to creating.

Thank you.


In this section I would like to recommend some resources that are not a very relevant to article itself but still I find those resources very interesting and worth sharing.

“Death and Distributed Systems with Pieter Hintjens” in Software Engineering Daily ( — Pieter Hintjens grew up writing software by himself. The act of writing code brought him great pleasure, but the isolated creative process disconnected him from the rest of the world. As his life progressed he became involved in open source communities, and he discovered a passion for human interaction.

Open source software succeeds or fails on the strength of the community. One story of success is ZeroMQ, a popular open source distributed messaging system that was started by Pieter Hintjens.