The Way Gamification Influences Student Motivation and Engagement


In society today, students play (computer) games in their leisure time, thus acquiring skills which can easily be utilized when it comes to teaching more sophisticated knowledge. In an article, it states that 68% of parents believe that playing games provides mental stimulation or education in that games provide challenges for gamers to complete and each challenge reaps a reward or progresses you further in a game. This approach motivates gamers to play a game more with the intention of completing it with the time spent gaming per day in the US: 215,000,000 hours. As we can see, Games have remarkable motivational power; they utilize a number of mechanisms to encourage people to engage with them, sometimes without any reward, just for the joy of playing and the possibility to win.

Nevertheless, many educators today are utilising this opportunity in that educators have evaluated gaming scenarios and methods for teaching students and have created the term “gamification”. Gamification is making use of video game elements such as leaderboards, badges, level system, achievements in a non-game context to encourage engagement and stimulate personal productivity. Motivation is a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way. Gamification provides elements of “fun” and “pleasure” to help improve a student’s motivation and create an enjoyable learning experience than traditional instructions of teaching. Adding gaming elements such points, avatars, badges etc to the classroom environment increases motivation (extrinsic and intrinsic), engagement, and promote desired learning behaviours of students. The gamification method has a positive impact on student motivation in that it increases their interest to learn and ambition to be successful. Learning must be engaging and motivation to meet the needs of students and with technological tools can help to meet various styles and gamification does this.

Articles covering gamification are becoming popular these days. According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, the penetration of the gamification trend in educational settings seems to be still climbing up to the top, as indicated by the amount and annual distribution of the reviewed works. The use of educational games as learning tools is a promising approach due to the games’ abilities to teach, and the fact that they reinforce not only knowledge but also important skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. As opposed to using elaborate games requiring a large amount of design and development efforts, the “gamification” approach suggests using game thinking and game design elements to improve student’s engagement and motivation.

Statement of the Problem

From the different literature reviews, it has been shown that traditional methods of teaching are becoming boring and ineffective for students. In a study conducted by Lee and Hammer, they state that “Although teachers continuously seek novel instructional approaches, it is largely agreed that today’s schools face major problems around student motivation and engagement”. Traditional based learning involves where a student arrives for class, gets taught by a lecturer, writes a test or notes, leaves the class and repeating the same process every day for the duration of the studies. This learning experience becomes dull for students and does not stimulate their willingness to learn new content or obtain new skills, and it forces students to drop out of their studies as the students then feel like they are wasting their time doing a particular course or subject. This is a big problem because this then results in low student motivation and engagement in their studies leading to students dropping out of University.

Deputy Director-general for university education at the Department of Higher Education Dr. Diane Parker stated in a radio interview held at Power897 37,3% of university students’ dropout and stated that one of the reasons was because classes were boring and not relevant to their lives or career aspirations. Since the student drop-out rate is high, student engagement is increasingly seen as an indicator of successful teaching and learning in higher education.


There are very few studies done on how gamification can help with student motivation and engagement in South African universities with UJ as my sample university for research. The research philosophy that should be used for making researches on how gamification affects student motivation is Epistemology using the Positivism research paradigm. Positivism uses scientific data to prove a theory or hypothesis to be true from data collection methods such as surveys which will be used in this research project. The data analysed and collected in this philosophy and paradigm can help explain on why and how gamification can help motivate students to learn and encourage student engagement​. With the research philosophy and paradigm combined it is possible to gain knowledge and understand how Gamification can help contribute to an effective way of teaching in universities proving it through statistics and figures. The knowledge can also help outline how this pedagogical approach should be properly implemented to ensure its success in increasing a student’s motivation to learn, so their study experience will be enjoyable and beneficial enough for the students will continue with their studies.

07 July 2022
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