Research Topic: Will gaming mechanics (gamification) in a classroom increase test scores?
H1: Students in a gamified classroom will show a statistically significant increase on end of instruction exam scores when compared to students in a traditional classroom.
H2: Teachers using a gamified class model will be able to cover more units of curriculum during the school year than teachers who use a more traditional classroom model.
Research Type: QT
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate what mechanics of gamification will help students retain information quicker and give the students the ability to retain that information longer. By moving through a course curriculum at a faster pace and internalizing the learning more meaningfully, the student should perform better on end of instruction exams.
Part 1: Sampling Design
- The study population will be students who are enrolled in the College of Education at Oklahoma State University. Students who are not in the College of Education will not be part of this study.
- The sample in this study will be students enrolled in EDTC 3123, Applications of Educational Technology. This course is a required course for students enrolled in the College of Education at Oklahoma State University. Only students who are enrolled in this course for the entire semester will be part of the sample. Any students who drop this course will not be used as part of the data.
- Convenience sampling will be used since all participants will be enrolled in a specific course at the university.
- All students enrolled in six of the different sections of EDTC 3123 will have the opportunity to participate in this study. In order to create a control group and an experimental group I will randomize the sections and have three sections in both groups. All participating section numbers will be placed into a jar and the first three sections drawn will be the experimental group. If students do not want to participate they would have the opportunity to take a section of this course that was not being used for data.
- The sample size would be close to 120 total students, depending on enrollment. The size of this sample would allow for variety of data to be collected for analysis and for norms to be identified.
- All students enrolled in the College of Education have to take EDTC 3123 as part of their requirement for graduation. This sample would represent one semester of all students in the College of Education enrolled in EDTC 3123. This sample should be large enough to represent the overall characteristics of students in the population.
Part 2: Literature Review
Theme 1 Gamification Design:
Gamification mechanics that are used as part of gamifying a class can include points and leaderboards. Students will get points for completing specific tasks and as students earn points, they are placed in a group showing the top point earners. Posting this information in the classroom allows students to see where they rank when compared to others in their class (Christy & Fox, 2014). To correctly implement gamification in the classroom, it is important to understand that teaching and learning are more complex than leaderboards and points. Designing a system that is dynamic and uses learning theory such as the ARCS framework (attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction) are necessary (Jung Tae & Won-Hyung, 2013). Then merging the gaming mechanics with the curriculum takes time and must be done the right way, or students may not benefit from this educational model (Hanus & Fox, 2015). Different studies have produced different results on gamification and one of the largest differences from study to study is in the course design and implementation.
By using several different aspects of gaming and combining them with a thorough knowledge of a specific curriculum, a gamified course structure can be developed that can be enjoyable and engaging for the students (de Byl, 2013). The teacher needs to communicate a clear outcome for the game and the teacher needs to understand the characteristics of the course or specific situation (Kim, 2015). Gaming design can also influence motivation. When this is combined with Flow Theory, then participants can get a lot of enjoyment from their specific experience (Deterding, 2015).
Theme 2 Incentives and Motivation:
When using game mechanics in the classroom the teacher is using incentives to guide the behavior of the students, students could work to be at the top of a class leaderboard (Christy & Fox, 2014) or could level up (de Byl, 2013) as they move through a particular curriculum. However it is important to create an incentive system that will work with your targeted population, if the reward is too large the students could respond with distrust (Korman, Glickman, & Frey, 1981). A study done by Berridge (2000) on rewards in learning, found that reward learning and motivation could co-exist. This is in line with the mechanics of gamification, where students would be motivated by the gaming mechanics to earn the next reward in their class.
Motivation can have a positive or negative impact on overall student performance. In a longitudinal study on gamification, Hanus and Fox (2015) found that students who participated in the gamified course in their study had lower intrinsic motivation. In their study they used the gaming mechanics of leaderboards and badges. This is in contrast with a study done by de Byl (2013) that showed her students were motivated to complete tasks outside of class to earn experience points in the class. In addition to leaderboards and badges, she used several other mechanics in her course design including experience points, levels, and customized learning experiences. The contrasting conclusions about motivation from this study show that course design could have an impact on student motivation. Students who are intrinsically motivated (motivation that comes from within the individual) will work on a task on their own, or seek to improve skills without being asked to do so (Rani & Lenka, 2012). Gamification could be a tool that will help students become motivated to work harder in their studies.
Berridge, K. C. (2000). Reward learning: Reinforcement, incentives, and expectations. Psychology of learning and motivation, 40, 223-278. doi: doi:10.1016/S0079-7421(00)80022-5
Christy, K. R., & Fox, J. (2014). Leaderboards in a virtual classroom: A test of stereotype threat and social comparison explanations for women’s math performance. Computers & Education, 78, 66-77. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.05.005
de Byl, P. (2013). Factors at play in tertiary curriculum gamification. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 3(2), 1-21. doi: 10.1007/ BF02310555 doi:10.5861/ ijrse.2012.v1i1.19. http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/ijgbl.2013040101
Deterding, S. (2015). The lens of intrinsic skill atoms: A method for gameful design. Human – Computer Interaction, 30(3-4), 294. doi: 10.1080/07370024.2014.993471
Hanus, M. D., & Fox, J. (2015). Assessing the effects of gamification in the classroom: A longitudinal study on intrinsic motivation, social comparison, satisfaction, effort, and academic performance. Computers & Education, 80, 152-161. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.08.019
Jung Tae, K., & Won-Hyung, L. (2013). Dynamical model and simulations for gamification of learning. International Journal of Multimedia & Ubiquitous Engineering, 8(4), 179-189.
Kim, B. (2015). Designing Gamification in the Right Way. Library Technology Reports, 51(2), 29-20_23.
Korman, A. K., Glickman, A. S., & Frey, R. L. (1981). More is not better – 2 failures of incentive theory. Journal of Applied Psychology, 66(2), 255-259. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.66.2.255
Rani, R., & Lenka, S. K. (2012). Motivation and Work Motivation: Concepts, Theories, and Researches. International Journal of Research in IT & Management, 2(8), 14-22.