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This week’s issue of LSW highlights research on one topic: gamification. Specifically, we’ll focus on the following questions:

  • To what degree does gamification impact perceived motivation in learning?
  • How do prizes influence learner performance?
  • Do learners involved in a gamified course using leaderboards attain higher learning performance?

Plus, we have an upcoming event that you’re invited to attend. Read on!

Perceived Motivation & Gamification

In the first featured article this week, study participants (n=124) were given the option to choose between using either a gamified or traditional learning interface and then were asked to report back on how motivated they felt when using that environment. This study was limited by the researchers’ use of Design-Based Research instead of a more traditional experimental design; the experiment also didn’t measure learning outcomes, and the researchers didn’t use a validated instrument to measure learner motivation.

Key Findings: A large portion (~70%) of participants in an organizational behavior course reported that they found the gamified learning experience more motivating than a traditional course design.

Read More ($): Chapman, J. R. & Rich, P. J. (2018). Does educational gamification improve students’ motivation? If so, which game elements work best? Journal of Education for Business, 93(7), 315-322.

Everyone Gets a Trophy

Who doesn’t like swag? Gifts, prizes, gold stars, awards -- these physical tokens can serve as powerful extrinsic motivators for learners and can support their learning outcomes. Right?

Well, that’s the question that researchers asked in this next article, which was published in 2017. In this study, participants (n=37) interacted with the instructor, consumed course content, and took short assessments; based on their performance in the class, they earned points and were placed on a leaderboard. The learner at the top of the leaderboard was identified as the “best student” of the week and given a small gift. The results of this study indicate a positive moderate correlation between students’ engagement and academic achievement, with gamification dynamics having a key positive effect on engagement.

Key Findings: The majority of learners didn’t receive a gift and reported being jealous of the ones who did. However, the students who received a gift reported that it generally increased their enthusiasm, and thus had a positive effect on their engagement in the activities (which then led to increased performance).

Read More ($): Çakıroğlu, Ü., Başıbüyük, B., Güler, M., Atabay, M., & Yılmaz Memiş, B. (2017). Gamifying an ICT course: Influences on engagement and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 98-107.

Top of the Leaderboard

In an experiment with a pre-test, post-test control group design, researchers hypothesized that learners involved in a gamified course using leaderboards would attain higher learning performance compared with students in the control condition. Their experiment (n=89) demonstrated that participants in the gamified condition (with the leaderboard) had a significant improvement in learning performance, even controlling for learners’ pre-intervention intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy.

Key Findings: Based on this study, it appears that leaderboards could positively impact learners’ course outcomes.

Read More ($): Ortiz-Rojas, M., Chiluiza, K., & Valcke, M. (2019). Gamification through leaderboards: An empirical study in engineering education. Computer Applications in Engineering Education, 27(4), 777-788.

Register Today: The Impact of Gamified Experiences on Organizational Education

Well-executed gamification strategies can strengthen your organizational education initiatives. How? Join Julia Huprich, Vice President of Learning Science at Intellum (hey, that’s me!), for a webinar where you’ll learn how to apply evidence-informed gamification strategies to enhance learner engagement, motivation, and outcomes. Register online (you’ll need to create an account first, but it’s super-quick!) and join us on Thursday, June 10, 2021 at 1 pm EDT.

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

Our friend Judith R. sent in photos of her puppies Zavier, Berry, and Cookie waaaaaay back in October, and somehow I missed sharing them with you. It's inexcusable!! Their faces are super-cute and must be shared with you. Sorry, Judith, and thanks for being such a loyal supporter of LSW!

Berry & Cookie

Send me (hi, I'm Julia) your pet pics at

Wondering why we’re including animal photos in a learning science newsletter? It may seem weird, we admit. But we’re banking on the baby schema effect and the “power of Kawaii.” So, send us your cute pet pics -- you’re helping us all learn better!

The LSW Crew

Learning Science Weekly is written and edited by Julia Huprich, Ph.D. Our head of growth and community is Julieta Cygiel.

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