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THE ROLE OF GAMIFICATION IN THE FACILITATION OF STUDENT ENGAGEMENT: AN EXPLORATORY INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY APPLICATION

Thesis

THE ROLE OF GAMIFICATION IN THE FACILITATION OF STUDENT ENGAGEMENT: AN EXPLORATORY INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGY APPLICATION

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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.
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... Besides, terms like 'engagement,' 'motivation,' or 'experience' are comprehensive and may encounter multiple things. For example, engagement can be a self-reported measure of general, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional engagement (Fredricks and McColskey 2012), or it can be the measure of users' participation in social, collaborative, assessment, or any other type of learning activity (Adams 2019). Motivation can refer to instinct, extinct and the three basic psychological needs (relatedness, autonomy, competence). ...
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Chapter
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