Supporting Motivation and Effort Persistence in an Online Financial Literacy Course Through Game-Based Learning

Supporting Motivation and Effort Persistence in an Online Financial Literacy Course Through Game-Based Learning

Larysa Nadolny (Iowa State University, USA), Jeanna Nation (West Financial Advisors, USA) and Jonathan Fox (Iowa State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2019070103
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The use of game mechanics and game structures when designing curriculums is gaining popularity in K-12 and higher education. More evidence is needed to determine the impact of game-based learning design on the student learning experience. This study used the IMMS instrument and user data to examine motivation within traditional courses and courses designed with game-based learning. The participants included 254 undergraduate students in two sections of the traditional course and two sections of the game-based learning course. The results showed that although students in all courses reported comparable motivation on the IMMS and similar time spent online, examination of user data indicated differences in effort persistence over the semester. Students in the GBL courses had a significantly higher number of interactions with content as compared to the traditional courses. This finding indicates that the leveling of content, adaptive release of optional content, and the ability to earn more points through a bank feature positively impacts effort persistence.
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Literature Review

Game-Based Learning

The term GBL has broadly been described as the use of game play in educational contexts (Silva, Macedo, Teixeira, Lanzer, & Graziani, 2017). This includes the use of digital games, virtual environments, board games, and entire curriculum. For this research study, the authors designed an entire online course as a game, including levels, rewards, and thematic aesthetics. The resulting course was structured like a game with increasing challenge over time and iterative cycles of assessment and feedback. This type of GBL design has gained popularity in the research literature as a method to increase student engagement and achievement. For example, the GBL curriculum Zombie-based Learning used a rich geographical narrative and a series of smaller goals to help middle school students learn geography while surviving a zombie apocalypse (Hunter, 2014). In contrast, Lee Sheldon used role playing and the leveling of content as a core strategy in a higher education course (2011). Designing curriculum as a complete gamified experience has shown to improve student outcomes, although specific design strategies and structures were met with varied success (Jackson, 2009; Daubenfeld & Zenker, 2014; Aguilar, Holman, & Fishman, 2015).

For this study, we gamified a personal finance course, an area that may be uniquely promising for GBL. Personal finance instruction is goal oriented from the start in that setting financial goals establishes the individual learning plan. Game attributes that emphasize goal attainment have the potential to reinforce desirable outcomes related to building financial capability. This approach was selected as there is evidence to suggest that the use of game-based learning strategies, including simulations (Mandell & Klein, 2007), are more effective than formal courses in building financial knowledge (Ostrow, 2014).

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