The Effectiveness of Gamification on Student Engagement, Learning Outcomes, and Learning Experiences

The Effectiveness of Gamification on Student Engagement, Learning Outcomes, and Learning Experiences

Kenneth C. C. Yang (The University of Texas at El Paso, USA) and Yowei Kang (National Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0115-3.ch017


Gamification has been widely used in the higher education to enhance users' learning experiences through the integration of game-like elements into the course materials. This study explores whether and how different levels of gamification in the instructional methods will influence student engagement with the course, overall learning experiences with the course, and learning outcomes with the course materials. The findings suggest that, among four indices to measure the success of gamification, three out of four show the positive gamification effects with a highly gamified class leads to higher level of student engagement than no or lowly gamified classes. The same positive gamification effects can be found in students' overall learning experience. Highly gamified classes result in better student learning outcomes as measured by their grades at different data collection points. Limitations of this study include small class sizes and no statistically significant results and only two gamified elements used. Implications and discussions were presented.
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The Rise of Digital Game Industry

According to Entertainment Software Association (henceforth, ESA) (2019), 65% of American adults play video game and the average age of gamers is 33 years old. Fifty-four percent of American gamers is male, while forty-six percent is female (ESA, 2019). Sixty-two percent of Millennial gamers (aged between 18 and 34 years old) who are attending college believe video games can be educational, while 68% of them believe playing video game can stimulate mental capacity (ESA, 2019). The video game industry has accumulated $43.4 billion in 2018 from three major categories: contents ($35.8 billion), hardware ($5.1 billion), and accessories and VR ($2.4 billion) (ESA, 2019). Nine out of the top 20 best-selling video games are classified as Mature, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Red Dead Redemption II, Grand Theft Auto V, Far Cry 5, God of War 2018, etc. challenging previous perceptions that digital games are played by teenagers (ESA, 2019). The growing importance that digital games have played in Generation M’s life has lent support to the integration of digital games into the higher education pedagogy.

Rapid growth of the digital game industry have generated enthusiasm among scholars from different disciplines to explore this phenomenon and its impacts in a variety of application contexts (Kang, 2015; Raessens & Goldstein, 2005; Wolf & Perron, 2003). Some emerging areas of digital game research include media effects of digital gameplay, addiction to digital games (Chuang, 2006), adoption behaviors of new game technologies (Chang, Lee, & Kim, 2006), methodological implications in researching digital games (Boellstorff, Nardi, Pearce, & Taylor, 2012), and educational applications (Adukaite, Zyl, Er, & Cantoni, 2017; de-Marcos, Domínguez, & Saenz-de-Navarrete, 2014; Gee, 2004; Leaning, 2015; Prensky, 2005). This book chapter will particularly focus on the applications of digital games in the higher education context (Adukaite et al., 2017; de-Marcos et al., 2014; Leaning, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flipped Classroom: A term that recently gains prominence because of new innovations in instruction technologies to allow the instructor to offer online resources and to gamify a class to allow students to learn actively. Its application implies that learning will go beyond the traditional classroom and students can learn at their own pace, before each face-to-face lecture, and to personalize their own learning experiences.

Gamification: Gamification is defined as the application of game design principles and the inclusion of game elements in non-gaming contexts. From the user experience (UX) perspective, this term is also considered to be an informal umbrella term to describe the inclusion of game design elements in non-game applications such as business, education, health care, human resources, to name a few.

Pedagogy: This term refers to a systematic instruction method employed by an instructor to convey core subject matters to students.

Engagement: A popular term commonly found in the discussion of how users may experience with of information-communication technology (ICT). In the context of gamification in education, this term refers to a psychological state that gamers and user experience with digital game and other gamified systems and applications that explain the reason and the result that gamers and users want to interact with them to demonstrate a connection to deep and meaning learning. In the context of digital games, the level of engagement that gamers can experience in these environments cannot be understated because it constitutes an important part of their gamification.

EdTech: A term that is used to refer to different types of instructional technologies (such as the internet, streaming technologies, cloud storage, digital games, etc.).

Generation Z: The terms Generation Z or Gen Z are used by demographers to refer to this generation cohort has been receiving increased Google search queries since 2014 with the highest weekly search volume, in comparison with that of Post-Millennials, iGeneration, or Homelanders.

Online Learning: A term to describe an emerging approach to learn at students’ premise through advanced information-communication technologies (such as Blackboard, Moodle, YouTube) either asynchronously or synchronously. Researchers have pointed out online learning can be informative/ individual learning focused, or communicative/networked learning focused.

Interactivity: A term that is often associated with an important part of the gameplay. This term refers to the process that users of gamified system can modify, based on the context and characters involved, the state and happening in a digital game by some action through an interface.

Motivation: A term to describe underlying reasons to explain human behaviors. Scholars have differentiated two types of motivation, such as intrinsic or extrinsic.

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