Gamification can be expressed as the application of gaming mechanisms within a non-gaming environment having its underlying aim to be the enhancement of processes enacted as well as the experiences of all those involved. In the past few years, the process of gamification has become very important in terms of education and training since the concept has all the techniques that can be used to make the learning process more engaging and motivating. In this paper, we attempt to understand how training teachers can help them implement gamification and how it will enhance the motivation and engagement level of the students in their learning process. The paper also reports the results of the literature review that has been conducted and analyzed up till now however, not much research has been made in the aspect of gamification within the context of education. These researches are made in different countries and compliances with both gamification in training as well as in formal education – primary to higher education. The present situation on the gamification in training and education is still in its initial stages in which every study aims in improving the effectiveness of the learning process by incorporating gaming elements. There are certain gaps in the researches made and which have been identified in this paper as well. There have been explained the various benefits associated with gamification in education and how it can enhance the motivation and engagement level of the students. The paper also outlines different researches made in the context of gamification in education and what implications it has on a wider range of learning processes.
Engagement and motivation are considered to be prerequisites for the encouragement of a specific behavior or for completing a task. With respect o education, major reason for low performance or drop-outs is associated with lack of engagement which is a pattern of increasing absenteeism where each absence makes the student less willing for returning to school and the worst effect is that they are distracted by technology like the internet and smartphones. This eventually hinders the process of information absorption and negatively impacts the effectiveness of training programs.
In the digital world of today, gamification is considered to be an effective technique for encouraging specific behaviors along with increasing engagement and motivation. Gamification concepts are being implemented in educational aspects as well as it helps educators maintain a balance between their goal achievement and catering the needs of their students as well.
The purpose of this report is to explain gamification, review successful implementation of the process and understand its limitations. The analysis reveals that the dynamics of the process have made the game engaging largely recognized and utilized within modern pedagogical practices however, they are under different designations. This, however, offers a certain level of legitimacy to the practice which is somehow dismissed to being superficial along with providing a way of formulating various useful guidelines for educators who are willing to incorporate the power of games for student motivation.
The method used to conduct the survey is experimental where two groups – control and experimental group – were used and the participants were teachers who are put onto training to help students understand gamification and implement it effectively within the learning environment. The effects were measured through instructive objective cards on both groups that were applied with the gamification approach. The results are analyzed in terms of increased motivation and engagement in students who were learning in a gaming environment and those who were not.
The measuring devices used to conduct the study is the intrinsic motivation inventory which aims to measure the subjective experience of the participants related to a targeted activity in laboratory experiments.
The results emerging from this study points towards the increasing popularity of gamification techniques that are being applied over a wide range of educational settings. It has also been defined that in the recent few years, the concept of gamification has become more common in the minds of researchers and practitioners and many have fairly adopted game artifacts as their educational tool and which enhances the overall learning process.
Many students consider traditional methods of schooling to be boring. Although, educationists are constantly seeking novel techniques, there is a widespread consent that the educational institutes of today are facing many issues related to students’ engagement and motivation (Lee and Hammer, 2011). Using educational games as a tool for learning is an approach which promises guaranteed learning because games have abilities to teach along with reinforcing knowledge level and promoting important skills like collaboration, communication and problem-solving. Games tend to have extraordinary motivational powers since they utilize various mechanisms through which people are encouraged to get engaged in quite often without any type of reward, just for enjoyment of playing and probably to win as well. Creating a game that is highly engaging and is a complete instructional source of learning is somehow difficult, costly and time consuming (Kapp, 2012a). In addition to this, games should not only be interactive but, they should have certain technical infrastructures as well as suitable instructive integrations. Unlike the traditional approach where games include a large amount of development efforts and designs, the gamification process suggests incorporating game designing and game thinking elements for improving the motivation and engagement of the learners’ (Ott & Tavella, 2009).
Gamification is defined as the process of using game designing elements in a context which is non-game and this concept is not only new but, is also increasing rapidly (Deterding et al, 2011). The underlying concept of gamification is somewhat different from an actual or educational game as the latter one is a full-fledge game used for non-entertainment purposes and elements that have been gamified includes only certain elements of a game.
Researchers point out that in order to be successful, the game should include elements that offer some value to the participants, provides various playing forms, offers easy and early access to contents and provides a prize for participation (Zichermann & Cunningham, 2011). In addition to this, there are arguments which indicate that games can train players mainly for performing different tasks and collecting items of points rather than the academic aspect. However, in the international higher educational scenario, this is not somehow true (Tulloch, 2014). The learning strategies of the students and their varying cultural and educational backgrounds are considered at the time of planning and conducting the courses.
The fact is that right game is introduced to the right target group. Adult learners have the ability to use their education and work experience for coming up with new solutions and integrating a game environment will help them test risky strategies and along with analyzing competitors responses. Like younger players, even adults are excited to give good performance. Moreover, the decisions they take are more calculated and careful as they draw conclusions based on their real life expertise. Here the greatest challenge for the educator is that they select pedagogically suitable methods through which adults play the game seriously.
There is a common assumption that most learners are motivated by computer games. This may be true for younger students however; adults tend to be more demanding. Integrating gamification in an adult learning environment calls for well-designed and suitable games combined with an effective learning environment. In addition to this, involving interactions will also facilitate the learning process (Whitton, 2011, 597). The best point of gamification in education is that both the teachers and the learners are so deeply engaged in the game that they experience a flow (Benyon & al., 2005). A flow is explained as a state in which people are so much involved within an activity that no other thing matters and the experience is so pleasing that they will do it even at a greater cost only for the sake of doing it (Csikszentmihalyi, 1992).
Adult learners are not motivated towards learning by computer games as they want it to be challenging, curiosity awakening, well-designed and should be designed to provide a deeper understanding about the topics included in the curriculum.. Moreover, the adult learners should also be able to solve real-time business problems based upon their curriculum along with anticipating the results of all the actions undertaken (Whitton, 2011, 596-597, 604-606, Malone and Leppert, 1987). A game having poor tutoring or malfunctions will have a controversial impact on the learners.
There have also been identified some factors which have a negative impact on learning. The first one is that if understanding the game rules take a lot of time, learners will have difficulties in starting the game. Secondly, if there is insufficient support in the game when they get stuck, learners will come in a state of distrust in the game itself. Thirdly, the game should embed in the overall learning environment and should have characteristics to enhance the learning process (Whitton, 2011, 602-603)
Intrinsic Motivation and Goal Theory
Intrinsic motivation increases the performance, enjoyment and persistence of students’ learning. The link between motivational need and gamification principles is very important for designing an effective gamification process; identification of intended players and gearing the game towards fulfilling their needs(Cordova & Lepper, 1996; Mills & Blankstein, 2000). The study aims in understanding that the implementation of the gamification process increases students’ motivation and engagement and the results can then be associated with various motivational theories. Using cards and measuring its influence on students motivation is explained in the light of the goal setting theory (Ma, Jain, & Oikonomou, 2011, p. 409). Given the situation where students have choice over what activities they want to perform and when, gamification can also be linked with mastery orientation and performance (Ames & Archer, 1988; Pintrich, 2003).
Security and physiological needs
Although, games do not have an impact on the physiological state of the player, they can however, impact on the brain’s need for them by gaming elements like ownership and scarcity. Scarcity within games can be explained as the artificial limiting of an in-game resource. This is very common in mobile applications where the player is delayed by imposed limits upon actions that he can do in a given time. The player is motivated to pay for the game in order to reduce the delay and overcome their fear of scarcity. On the other side, ownership in games is referred to the in-game possessions which a player can accumulate. Games are designed on this format to allow players to collect items.
Social elements like chat-rooms, forums and groups are suitable at this point and incorporating these social elements within games directly appeals to the belongingness need of a player. Game elements that are appealing to the player will motivate them to take part in the game along with the in-built social aspects.
The popularity of gamification is rising continuously. According to the Gartner’s Hype Cycle which is a research methodology outlining viability of emerging technologies for commercial success, gamification was at the top position in the Hype Cycle 2013 (Gartner, 2013) having an expectation to reach productivity plateau in the coming ten years although, this is mainly associated with business contexts. The trend of gamification techniques within educational settings is still struggling to get on the top.
There are not enough current researches made upon gamification approaches in educational contexts and this is particularly true in the teachers’ training sessions for using and implementing effective technologies in order to apply the TPACK framework and how to integrate gamification process within their teaching strategy.
TPACK is based on Shulman’s idea of PCK and includes some essential qualities of knowledge that is required by educators for integrating technology in their teaching along with addressing complex and multifaceted nature of teacher knowledge. It is basically a complex interplay of primary knowledge forms – Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK) and Technology (TK). Here content knowledge means acquiring necessary information in the subjects, pedagogical knowledge refers to understanding how to teach this information to the students and technological knowledge refers to the effective incorporation of technology in the lesson plan.
For every teacher, it is important to understand the concept of TPACK since the world is increasingly becoming technologically advanced. Students are using technology in their daily lives and for this purpose, it would be unwise for teachers to ignore this factor. Nowadays, technology has become a important aspect of classroom learning however, technology should be integrated purposefully and wisely. It should be made part of a lesson plan which helps in enhancing students’ learning.
TPACK is not only about technology. Teachers should know about their subject along with the way of how to teach it to the students. Technology does not replace content or pedagogical knowledge rather, it adds in a new dimension to the learning process. Teachers can perform more effectively when they understand and use the concept of TPACK in the classroom.
Shedding further light on the learning experiences incorporating gamification, there have been recently conducted a literature search by the authors which reviewed the current status of the relationship between education and gamification and the results indicated that there are very close relationships between the two (Hamari, Koivisto, & Sarsa, 2014). The relationship states that players experience a kind of engagement with the games which are translated in the educational context for the goal of facilitating learning along with influencing the behavior of students’. There have been published some literature reviews on gamification which (See Hamari, Koivisto, & Sarsa, 2014; Xu, 2012; Nah, Zeng, Telaprolu, Ayyappa, & Eschenbrenner, 2014). Among these researches, only the last research had its focus upon gamification in education. In this paper, we will study the aspect of training teachers to help them acquire skills for innovating teaching strategy through gamification.
Dynamics of gamification
Past literature revealed certain dynamics of integrating game play within learning processes and which have been proved to provide consistent and successful results.
Freedom for failing
Game design allows players to experiment without any type of fear of any irreversible damage by providing them with multiple lives or to allow them to start from the beginning. Integrating the freedom for failing within a classroom atmosphere is proved to be a very effective dynamic in enhancing student motivation and engagement (Gee, James Paul, 2008; Lee, J. & Hammer, J. 2011; Kapp, K. M. 2012 and Salen, Katie 2008).
Feedback is considered to be a critical element in the learning process (Kapp, 2012). As a matter of fact, feedback is a key element in education even if game design is not integrated however, incorporating the elements of game design in the form of a continual feedback to the learners in the way of visual cues, self-paced exercises and question and answer activities is another dynamic progression (Kapp, K. M., 2012).
Another positive dynamic which impacts the learning process in the classroom is using narrative and storytelling. Most of the games include some form of storytelling (Kapp, 2012). For example, Monopoly tells the story of being rich through owning property. The researcher is of the opinion that people tend to learn facts faster when they are embedded within a story rather than in a list (Kapp, 2012)
Challenges Associated With Gamifying Education
Although, gamification of education has several positive aspects that can make the education process effective and interesting however, there are certain challenges associated with using games in an educational environment. The first challenge is the developing of gaming elements that will engage adult learners without condescending them. The other challenge is how to train teachers so as to integrate gaming elements meaningfully within curriculum activities. Another challenge is that how to make games used for educational purposes to include more sophisticated content.
Purpose of the Research
The purpose of the research is to promote the development of teachers’ through the incorporation of innovative and unique teaching strategies like gamification within training programs. The purpose is to facilitate the acquisition of effective technology integration skills within teachers and this can be done by providing them adequate trainings for effectively applying the TPACK framework. By integrating the gamification process in the educational context, the intrinsic motivational level of the students will be assessed.
This is important to improve the learning process along with making it fun and enjoyable for adult learners’. Technology integration skills in teachers are considered to be very important in this technologically advanced era. In order to make the classroom an effective place to teach, where students learn about their curriculum through gaming elements will not only help teachers to improve their performance but, will also help students to deeply understand their subjects.
Methodology and Data Collection
The experimental research was conducted on two groups – one being a control group and the other the experimental group. Students in the control group were 24 and students in the experimental group were 25. All students’ participation was purely voluntary and they participated in the study because they wanted to. The participants of the research are teachers enrolled in a graduate instructional technology program. The age bracket of these teachers was between 25-33 years old.
The control group comprises of students leaning under a traditional learning environment. The group was divided into sub-groups of 4-5 students per group. All the students were provided with the rules of the training session. The purpose of the session is to help graduate students understand and apply the TPACK framework. The materials comprised of cards prepared by the researchers and every card had an instructional objective which is related to certain disciplines like science, math, geography, history and religion. Under every instructional objective, there lies a set of technologies as well as a set of different teaching strategies from which the students are required to select.
The first group is provided with the cards and they were asked to work together for matching the parts of the cards. The group was also given useful instructions by the researchers so that they can make their best match along with convincing at leat two other groups. After the first group is finished, the round is passed to the second group who will perform the same task. The researchers are not providing any badges or points as a result of making a correct match.
The other group is the experimental group that has been applied with the gamification approach. Similar rules were applied on this group and students were divided into 4-5 students group. Every student was again provided with the rules of the training session and the researchers gave one member of the first group the instructional objective card. Students within the same group can help their member to make the best match. The member will then present her best match to the other groups and convince them of their choice. If the member is able to convince at least two other groups of their match, they will proceed further to a board game of snakes and ladder and throw the dice for going further in the game. The member who is given the card will also be provided with a point for making the correct match by using Class Dojo which is a gamification application. The round is then transferred to the next group and the entire process is repeated again. The winning group will be the one that reaches on the 100 point first. The winning member will be the one who will accumulate more points.
The two groups were also formed to understand their level of intrinsic motivation inventory by using a validated instrument which is the intrinsic motivation inventory (IMI) . The intrinsic motivation inventory is a measurement instrument which has the aim to measure the subjective experience of the participants related to a targeted activity in laboratory experiments. The instrument aims to assess the participants upon six subscales which include:
- Perceived competence
The subscale of perceived choice was not included in the data collection process since it it is not applicable to the study purpose. All research participants of the research were made part because they wanted to and are purely voluntary.