Meaningful Gamification for Journalism Students to Enhance Their Critical Thinking Skills

Meaningful Gamification for Journalism Students to Enhance Their Critical Thinking Skills

Ling-Yi Huang (Nanfang College of Sun Yat-sen University, China) and Yu-Chu Yeh (National Chengchi University, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5472-1.ch070
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Training in critical thinking is essential for the professional development of journalism students. To achieve this goal, this study developed a gamified platform and a blended learning curriculum. During an 18-week experimental instruction period, a series of instructional activities, which included online discussions as well as classroom lectures and discussions, were conducted to enhance 32 journalism students' critical-thinking dispositions and skills. Repeated measure analysis of variance on test scores and analyses of open questions found that the participants significantly improved their critical thinking skills and dispositions through the gamified platform with the experimental instruction in a blended learning environment. The findings suggest that providing clear goals, challenges and quests, feedback, competition and cooperation, actual grading and visible status, access/ unlocking content, onboarding time restrictions, freedom of choice, and new identities and roles, as well as avoidance of over-justification, contributes to achieving a “meaningful gamification” experience, which may further lead to self-determined learning in critical thinking.
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It has been suggested that critical thinking (CT), informal logic training, and fallacy training are essential components of journalism education, which contributes to the ideal of democracy in journalism (Herrea, 2012). Both CT and argumentation analysis concerned with fallacies have appeared in the journalism literature (Shoemaker, 2003; Walton, 2007; Stoff, 2008). However, most discussions are focused on various contexts of journalism in America. Looking at curriculum design in China, although CT was first introduced as a learning goal for students in 2001 in Hong Kong, few formal curricula have been developed to achieve this educational objective. CT has been a “null curriculum” because most teachers have not received training in how to teach critical thinking (Ou, 2012). Therefore, determining how to introduce and integrate CT into journalism education in China remains a new challenge.

To enhance CT skills and dispositions through one well-designed course is possible (e.g., Yeh, 2012). However, to transform the mindsets of journalism students from rigid to open-minded and to habituate them to CT requires long-term practice. In other words, a training course is only the starting point in enhancing journalism students’ CT. To cultivate more professional journalists with great CT, a valid instrument is essential to help them transfer their learning from the classroom into future everyday practices. Gamification refers to the use of game design elements in non-game contexts (Deterding, 2011); it emphasizes the connections between game elements and important aspects of learning (Nicholson, 2012). To date, it is seldom employed in CT training for journalism students. This study thus developed a blended learning curriculum in which concepts of gamification were integrated and a gamified platform was designed to enhance the effects of CT training for journalism students.

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