The role of gamification in the facilitation of student engagement : an exploratory industrial psychology application

Adams, Samantha (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Student engagement has been identified as a significant predictor of student success. With the current drive to improve student success and graduation rates in South African higher education institutions, the potential that enhanced student engagement and learning experiences hold for increasing student success provides a strong rationale for research in this area. One potential avenue for enhancing student engagement is gamification. The popularity of gamification as a learning tool to foster engagement has grown exponentially over the past decade. Gamification is understood as the application of game thinking and game design to non-game environments, products and services, e.g. education. The goal of gamification is to promote motivation and engagement, as well as provide an engaging experience in numerous contexts. Educational gamification holds much potential for supporting and enhancing authentic learning experiences. Despite the initial positive wave of research, more recent studies are reporting inconclusive or mixed results of the efficacy of gamification use in education. This emphasises the need for theoretical and rigorous empirical investigations of gamified interventions in education. In addition, the application of educational gamification to the development of student engagement and student success has received limited attention in the South African context. This study sought to propose a framework of educational gamification design principles for the facilitation of student engagement. The investigation was guided by the principles of the Design Based Research (DBR) approach. DBR is characterised by iterative cycles of analyses, design, evaluation and revision activities that serve to develop and improve teaching and learning technologies. Through this approach a gamified online learning environment was created, evaluated and revised, within two Industrial psychology modules, over three iterative cycles. The pragmatic paradigm supported the used of mixed methods in the examination of the influence that gamification had on student engagement. Qualitative focus group interviews were employed to elicit participant perspectives and experiences. Student engagement was also evaluated quantitatively through a questionnaire compiled to measure the dimensions of the construct (i.e. behavioural, emotional and cognitive engagement) and was used in a within-subjects experimental design. Supporting data was also collected through documentation, activity logs and website analytics. The findings supported the development of a framework of design principles and design guidelines derived from the design and evaluation process to develop the interventions. These principles and guidelines present key features and insights required for gamifying learning environments that facilitate student engagement. The findings also emphasised the dynamic interplay between the dimensions of student engagement as well as how they are influenced by game elements. Cross case comparisons highlighted the influence that factors such as enjoyment, context and group characteristics have on the perceived success and effective use of educational gamification. Even though limited support was found to corroborate clear casual effects of the gamified intervention on student engagement, the study demonstrated that educational gamification principles can facilitate student engagement - but must be carefully tailored, and seamlessly integrated with the learning environment. Most importantly, educational gamification can support and enhance behaviours that are conducive to learning, but require relevant and meaningful learning activities in combination with carefully considered reward and feedback mechanisms. The study provides practical and theoretical insights that are transferrable from the context in which it was conducted. This research also highlighted challenges and limitations associated with educational gamification usage and student engagement research and thus offered suggestions for avenues for further investigation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Studente-betrokkenheid is geïdentifiseer as ʼn belangrike voorspeller van studentesukses. Met die huidige strewe om studentesukses en gradueringstempo in Suid-Afrikaanse hoër onderwysinstellings te verbeter, bied die potensiaal wat verhoogde studentebetrokkenheid en verbeterde leerervarings inhou ʼn sterk rasionaal vir navorsing in hierdie area. Een potensiële weg vir die bevordering van studentebetrokkenheid is gamification/spel1. Die gewildheid van gamification as ʼn leer- hulpmiddel om betrokkenheid te bevorder, het die afgelope dekade eksponensieel gegroei. Gamification word verstaan as die toepassing van speldenke en spelontwerp op nie-spelverwante omgewings, produkte en dienste, byvoorbeeld onderwys. Die doel van gamification is om motivering en betrokkenheid te bevorder, asook om ʼn deelnemende ervaring in talle kontekstete bied. Opvoedkundige gamification hou baie potensiaal in vir die ondersteuning en verbetering van outentieke leerervarings. Ten spyte van die aanvanklike vlaag positiewe navorsing, rapporteer meer onlangse studies onbevredigende of gemengde resultate in die doeltreffendheid van die gebruik van gamification in die onderwys. Dit beklemtoon die noodsaaklikheid van teoretiese en streng empiriese ondersoeke na gevorderde intervensies in die onderwys. Daarbenewens het die toepassing van opvoedkundige gamification in die ontwikkeling van studentebetrokkenheid en -sukses in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks beperkte aandag gekry. Die doel van hierdie studie was om ʼn raamwerk van opvoedkundige ontwerpbeginsels vir gamification voor te stel vir die fasilitering van studentebetrokkenheid. Die ondersoek is aan die hand van die beginsels van die Ontwerpgebaseerde Navorsingsbenadering gedoen. Ontwerpgebaseerde Navorsing (OBN) word gekenmerk deur iteratiewe siklusse van ontledings, ontwerp, evaluering en hersieningsaktiwiteite wat daarna streef om onderrig- en leertegnologieë te ontwikkel en te verbeter. Deur hierdie benadering is ʼn gamified aanlyn leeromgewing binne twee bedryfsielkunde-modules oor drie iteratiewe siklusse geskep, geëvalueer en hersien. Die pragmatiese paradigma het die gebruik van gemengde metodes ondersteun in die ondersoek van die invloed wat gamification op studentebetrokkenheid gehad het. Kwalitatiewe fokusgroeponderhoude is aangewend om deelnemer perspektiewe en ervarings te dokumenteer. Studentebetrokkenheid is ook kwantitatief geëvalueer deur middel van ʼn vraelys wat saamgestel is om die dimensies van die konstruk te meet (naamlik gedrags-, emosionele- en kognitiewe-betrokkenheid). ʼn Binne-groep eksperimentele ontwerp is gebruik. Ondersteunende data is ook ingesamel deur middel van dokumentasie, aktiwiteitslogboeke en webwerf-analise. Die bevindinge ondersteun die ontwikkeling van ʼn raamwerk van ontwerpbeginsels en ontwerpsriglyne wat uit die ontwerp- en evalueringsproses verkry is om die intervensies te ontwikkel. Hierdie beginsels en riglyne bied sleutelkenmerke en -insigte wat nodig is vir die (gamifying) omskakeling van leeromgewings wat studentebetrokkenheid bevorder. Die bevindinge het ook die dinamiese wisselwerking tussen die dimensies van studentebetrokkenheid beklemtoon, asook hoe dit beïnvloed word deur spelelemente. Kruisgevalvergelykings beklemtoon die invloed wat faktore soos genot, konteks en groepseienskappe op die waargenome sukses en effektiewe gebruik van opvoedkundige spel het. Alhoewel beperkte ondersteuning vir kousale verbande tussen die intervensie en studente-betrokkenheid verkry is, is daar duidelike aanduidings dat die beginsels van opvoedkundige gamification wel studente-betrokkenheid kan fasiliteer. Opvoedkundige gamification moet versigtig toegepas word en soomloos geïntegreer word met die leeromgewing. Belangriker nog, opvoedkundige gamification kan gedrag bevorder wat bevorderlik is vir leer, maar vereis relevante en betekenisvolle leeraktiwiteite in kombinasie met deeglik oorwoë belonings- en terugvoermeganismes. Die studie bied praktiese en teoretiese insigte wat oordraagbaar is vanuit die konteks waarna dit uitgevoer is. Hierdie navorsing het ook klem gelê op uitdagings en beperkinge wat verband hou met die opvoedkundige gebruik van gamification in studentebetrokkenheidsnavorsing en bied dus voorstelle vir verdere navorsing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106010
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