Creating Student Interaction Profiles for Adaptive Collaboration Gamification Design

Creating Student Interaction Profiles for Adaptive Collaboration Gamification Design

Antti Knutas, Jouni Ikonen, Dario Maggiorini, Laura Ripamonti, Jari Porras
DOI: 10.4018/IJHCITP.2016070104
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Benefits of collaborative learning are established and gamification methods have been used to motivate students towards achieving course goals in educational settings. However, different users prefer different game elements and rewarding approaches and static gamification approaches can be inefficient. The authors present an evidence-based method and a case study where interaction analysis and k-means clustering are used to create gamification preference profiles. These profiles can be used to create adaptive gamification approaches for online learning or collaborative learning environments, improving on static gamification designs. Furthermore, the authors discuss possibilities for using our approach in collaborative online learning environments.
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Collaborative learning, or the cooperative activity of students working together towards a specific learning goal with the teacher as a facilitator (Bruffee, 1995; Dillenbourg, 1999b), has become an increasingly topic important in education (Okamoto, 2004). This collaborative approach to education has been shown to develop critical thinking, deepen the level of understanding and increase the shared understanding of the material (Gokhale, 1995; D. W. Johnson & Johnson, 1999; R. Johnson & Johnson, 1994). Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) extends and facilitates this cooperation by using electronic communication tools (Dillenbourg, 1999a). CSCL has several benefits, including wider participation for knowledge building, and improved student productivity and satisfaction (Resta & Laferrière, 2007).

Computer supported collaboration is also essential in software engineering education, because working and efficiently collaborating teams is at the basis of software engineering industry (Coccoli, Stanganelli, & Maresca, 2011). The impact of collaboration has been studied in both physical classrooms (Alaoutinen, Heikkinen, & Porras, 2012) and in online environments (Dewiyanti, Brand-Gruwel, Jochems, & Broers, 2007) with positive course outcomes. However, the people who benefit most from this collaboration do not always interact (Knutas, Ikonen, & Porras, 2013).

In recent studies it has been shown that students can be guided towards educational goals like collaboration by using gamification (Glover, 2013), which is the application of game-like elements to non-game environments (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011; Groh, 2012). Approaches that use some elements of gamification have been shown to increase student collaboration (Moccozet, Tardy, Opprecht, & Léonard, 2013) and the motivation towards achieving course goals (Sheth, Bell, & Kaiser, 2012) in educational settings.

Although we instinctively recognize than games and fun are tightly related, both concept and their interrelation are quite slippery to define (Caillois, 1961; Crawford, 1984; Huizinga, 1950; Juul, 2003; Rollings & Adams, 2003; Salen & Zimmerman, 2005). The investigation of these issues has led neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists to examine how playing a game and learning are connected (S. Johnson, 2004; Miller, 1956). The basic observation is that humans have always used games as playgrounds for learning and exercising safely specific skills. During this process, human brain secretes endorphins (which makes a game an enthralling and fun activity), is highly focused on recognizing recurring patterns in problems, and on creating appropriate neural routines to deal with them. Once the pattern is fully caught by the player, the game becomes boring, but the skill has been accurately acquired. In a certain sense, we could say that “Fun is the emotional response to learning” (Crawford, 2003) and that the first and main reason for a (video) game to exist is to provide fun to its players (Koster, 2005), that is achieved not only through alluring game mechanics, but also by providing an environment that fosters immersivity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991; Fullerton, 2008; Salen & Zimmerman, 2004).

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