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Undergraduate Student Perceptions of Pleasurability in Educational Gamification

Gulinna A (University of Kansas, USA)
Session Information
July 7, 2015 - 5:30pm
Teaching & Learning Effectiveness
Areas of Special Interest: 
Institutional Initiatives
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research and Evaluation
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Discovery Session
Plaza Foyer
Session Duration: 
60 Minutes
Discovery Session 1

This mixed-method research will develop an online instrument with the purpose of helping instructors understand their undergraduate student perceptions of pleasurability in educational gamification.

Extended Abstract

Description of Context
Educational environments have been significantly changed over the past two decades because of globalization and advances in technology. Online courses and mobile learning applications have emerged into the educational market. Other technology-assisted teaching and learning approaches, such as Google classrooms, interactive whiteboard, and educational games, have also been implemented in educational environments. Students learning habits have also been reconstructed under this circumstance. They learn skills and methods through games in everyday lives, but they need to use another system of learning methods in academic domains (Erenli, 2013). Additionally, the population and the ethnical diversity of learners have also been tremendously expanded in recent years. The enrollment of international students in higher education in the United States has increased by 30.45% in the last decade (de Araujo, 2011).
All these new issues have added challenges for instructors and educators to rethink their pedagogical strategies and teaching outcomes. Gamification, the use of game factors in non-game environments (Nah et al., 2014), is a possible solution to bridge the gap between learners everyday learning habits and academic learning methods because it has the potential to encourage learners to study in both formal and informal learning environments. Gartner estimates that more than half of companies managing innovation processes will implement gamification by 2015 (Hamari, Koivisto & Sarsa, 2014, Xu, 2011). Higher education, as a critical stage that transfers the youth from educational environments to workplaces, should also be prepared to employ these gamified activities into learning and instructional contexts.
Goals and Objectives
This research aims to provide empirical evidences for the existing literature on educational gamification. This research is also interested in investigating whether international students have different preferences for game factors compared to domestic students. It is intended to provide some insights with the cultural awareness in studying students from different countries of origins for the game factors in gamification of education.
This research will develop an online questionnaire to analyze university undergraduate student perceptions of pleasurability in educational gamification based on a game design framework named playful user experience (PLEX) by Arrasvuori and his colleagues (2011). The distinct feature of this research is that it will find out pleasurable user experiences in educational contexts and map them with game factors in educational gamification. Thus, the aim of this research is to find out the rankings of game factors in educational gamification by user ratings.
Literature Review
Existing research has shown the effectiveness of gamification of education in motivating students to learn in both K-12 and higher education (Erenli, 2013, Hamari et al., 2014, Jensen, 2012, Nah et al., 2014). But most research used case studies with small sample sizes or evaluated the effectiveness of those game factors by asking for user feedback after using the gamification (Nah et al., 2014) rather than investigating user needs and preferences before the design of gamification. It is important to understand the clients holistically (Jordan, 2000). More systematic design and assessment of gamification in education is needed. Jordan (2000) considers pleasurability as the highest level of product design, which refers to the pleasure with products: the emotional, hedonic and practical benefits associated with products (Jordan, 2000, p. 12). By understanding students perceptions of pleasurablity in educational gamification will maximize the design of more comprehensive user interfaces.
Research Questions
Three research questions will be investigated throughout the research:
1. How can undergraduate student preferences towards pleasurability in educational gamification be reliably and robustly measured?
a. What are the sub-constructs of measuring pleasurability in educational gamification?
b. What predictors significantly influence undergraduate student perceptions of pleasurability in educational gamification?
2. Whether, if there is any, undergraduate student perceptions of pleasurability in educational gamification differentiate because of their countries of origins?
3. How do user pleasurable experiences in educational contexts correlate with game factors in gamification?
Both qualitative and quantitative research methods will be implemented in this investigation because of the nature of this exploratory research. Ethnographic design methods, such as participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups, will be conducted for questionnaire item design. These inquiries can help the researcher understand the learning experiences that university undergraduate students regard as pleasurable in educational environments. Then these statements will be mapped with the seven game factors of gamification, e.g., badges, feedback, leaderboard, levels, points, progress, and storytelling (Nah et al., 2014). An expert panel, which is composed of experts in instrument design and gamification research, will review the questionnaire items.
An online Likert 6-point agree/disagree scale questionnaire will be distributed to the undergraduate students at a Mid-west research university via Qualtrics. The participants will be recruited by flyers and email invitations. A pilot study will be conducted in order to check the validity and reliability of this instrument. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) will be conducted to finalize the sub-items (descriptions of pleasurable learning experiences) within each sub-construct (game factor). The finalized questionnaire will be sent out to both domestic and Chinese undergraduates at this university in order to compare their ratings for each item in this questionnaire.
Regression analysis will be applied to explore the explanation power of each independent variable to the dependent variables. Dependent variables will be participants ratings for each description of the pleasurable experience and the independent variables will be participants demographic information, such as major, gender, age, ethnicity, and game habits. A 2-level hierarchical linear model (HLM) will be implemented in the data analysis in order to separate the variance between undergraduates who come from different majors _ science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) vs. social science.
This research is in the process of questionnaire item design. The pilot test of the questionnaire will be conducted in late 2015 spring. It should have preliminary data by the time of this conference. The results of this research can be used for future research on designing alternative instructions for learners who come from different cultural backgrounds. The instrument in this research will also help future researchers to build their instrument and experiments in studying student engagement and pleasurability in educational gamification.