An Overview and Study on the Use of Games, Simulations, and Gamification in Higher Education

An Overview and Study on the Use of Games, Simulations, and Gamification in Higher Education

Bradley E. Wiggins (Webster University, Vienna, Austria)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2016010102
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Abstract

This article examines the use of both game-based learning (GBL) and gamification in tertiary education. This study focuses specifically on the use of games and/or simulations as well as familiarity with gamification strategies by communication faculty. Research questions concentrate on the rate, frequency, and usage of digital and non-digital games and/or simulations in communication courses, as well as instructor familiarity with gamification. A survey was constructed with questions emerging from the game-based learning and gamification literature. It was distributed to communication faculty at public institutions of higher education in a southern state. In this context, the author argues that while the term gamification is novel, the approach is not. Based on the results, current gamification strategies appear to be a repackaging of traditional instructional strategies.
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Introduction

Two main perspectives on the use of games in higher education permeate the literature: game-based learning in which actual games are used in the classroom to enhance learning and teaching, and gamification which advocates the use of game-design elements in non-game contexts. Specifically, game-design elements include rewards, leader boards, badges, levels, trophies, among others (Dominguez et al., 2013; Kapp, 2012). The purpose of bringing both views together in this article is to accomplish a thorough understanding of the uses of both game-based learning and gamification in tertiary education.

Following a literature-based definition of both game-based learning and gamification, each term is treated separately with respect to the current themes expressed in the literature but with specific emphasis on the use of each within higher education. A series of research questions seek to demystify the current use of games and game-design elements at institutions of higher education. This study focuses specifically on the use of games and/or simulations as well as familiarity with gamification strategies by communication faculty at public institutions of higher education in Arkansas, United States. The impetus for this article stems from the lack of knowledge on the practical use of games and gamification in higher education. It is important to note that many studies have focused on game-based learning in primary education (Buckingham, 2007; Fengfeng, 2008; Huizenga, Admiraal, Akkerman, & Dam, 2009; Kolovou & Heuvel-Panhuizen, 2010; Miller & Robertson, 2011) and secondary education (Arnab et al., 2013; Annetta, Minogue, Holmes, & Cheng, 2009; Bourgonjon, Valcke, Soetaert, & Schellens, 2010; Papastergiou; 2009) but few have researched the post-secondary level.

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