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The impact of gamification in educational settings on student learning outcomes: a meta-analysis

Abstract

Gamification research in educational settings has produced mixed results on student learning outcomes. Educational researchers and practitioners both struggle with identifying when, where, and how to use gamification design concepts. The present study provides findings from a meta-analysis that integrated the empirical, quantitative research on gamification in formal educational settings on student learning outcomes. This was achieved by examining the overall effect size, identifying which gamification design elements (e.g., badges) were used, and determining under what circumstances (e.g., engineering education) gamification works. The final corpus of data included 30 independent studies and associated effect sizes comparing gamification to non-gamification conditions while accounting for N = 3083 participants. The overall effect size using a random-effects model is g = .464 [.244 to .684] in favor of the gamification condition, which is a small to medium effect size. We examined 14 different gamification design elements (e.g., leaderboards) and showed that each leads to different effects on student learning outcomes. Further, the type of publication (e.g., journal article), student classification (e.g., undergraduate), and subject area (e.g., mathematics) are also investigated as moderators. We provide a discussion of our findings, some recommendations for future research, and some brief closing remarks.

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Huang, R., Ritzhaupt, A.D., Sommer, M. et al. The impact of gamification in educational settings on student learning outcomes: a meta-analysis. Education Tech Research Dev 68, 1875–1901 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-020-09807-z

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