The effects of gamification on language learner motivation

Kevin Ballou, Kindai University, Japan;    Abstract: The use of game elements outside of gaming contexts, known as gamification, has become widely used in diverse fields from business marketing to fitness apps. Gamification can provide motivational benefits as well as create clear paths for users to navigate challenging content. Because of its association with games themselves, some educators are hesitant to adopt gamification because of a fear of their lesson being deemed inappropriate or less serious by other teachers and administrators. However, gamification is not simply playing games in the classroom, and in fact, does not necessarily involve any gameplay outside of the curriculum, which is itself designed with game elements.

This presentation will offer a detailed explanation of gamification, including the use of quests, experience points, rewards and badges, and leaderboards, as well as integration with conventional curriculum and assignments. The presenter will also provide an overview of the research on gamification in education contexts, with concrete examples from programs that have had success integrating gamification strategies.

Finally, the presenter will share the results of the first stage of his research examining the results of gamification on learner motivation in a university English as a foreign language setting. Two classes of Japanese engineering students were taught a one semester English communication course with identical curriculum and assignments. One class was assessed with a traditional grading system. The other class utilized a gamified system for grading that incorporated quests, characters, rewards, and leaderboards. Both groups of students completed the Learner Motivation Scale at the start and end of the study as a measure of their motivation and attitude toward language learning. The researcher will share preliminary results from the survey as well as student reflections on their experiences.


Keywords: language education, innovation in education, gamification, assessment


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