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Gamification for Self-Directed Learning in Higher Education
Halmstad University, School of Information Technology, Halmstad Embedded and Intelligent Systems Research (EIS), Man and Information technology laboratory (MI-lab).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8596-2027
2019 (English)In: EDULEARN19 Proceedings, The International Academy of Technology, Education and Development, 2019, p. 1764-1773Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper reports on how gamification was used to promote Self-Directed Learning (SDL) in a course at a Swedish university. SDL is a strategy to lifelong learning [1], and essential in today's fast-changing society. However, it is challenging to achieve in higher education due to an emphasis on extrinsic motivation, and a tradition of the teacher being in control. Gamification is the use of game elements in non-game contexts [2] and has been used in educational contexts to motivate and engage students. Based on six years experience of teaching a gamified course, this paper seeks to answer the question: How can gamification support Self-Directed Learning in higher education?

Self-directed learners continue to learn after the formal education has ended, which is essential in most professions today. The concept was described by Garrison [1] as having three dimensions: self-management (control), self-monitoring (responsibility) and motivation. This paper focuses on SDL as one perspective on learning, exploring the possibility for using gamification to support SDL.

The paper reports on the experiences from the past six years of teaching a gamified course for first-year interaction design undergraduate students. A total of 253 students have taken the course, which implements several game elements: points, levels, choice, boss, collaboration, player status, and feedback. The students' experiences have been evaluated in several ways: the university’s standard summative evaluation form, since 2015 also a summative oral evaluation, and during 2016 and 2017 oral evaluations were also performed halfway through the course. The experiences from teaching the course are analysed using the three dimensions of SDL.

For example, self-management is supported by the use of choice and the transparency of the player status page. In this case, the students were able to strategically choose some of their assignments, based on their level of ambition, through the overview of their current points. Self-monitoring is for example supported by the transparency of the reward structure and frequent external feedback; in this case, the point system and associated profile page.

Furthermore, the reward structure, levels, choice, bosses, and the overall novelty of the concept supported motivation. The challenge in SDL is to internalise extrinsic motivation [1], and in this case the overall strong grades of the students, and their continued motivation to participate in course activities show that this was at least partly successful. In this case, the challenge was how to balance the game elements in order to achieve SLD, yet still maintain the structure of formal education.

We formulate four ways in which gamification can support SDL: feedback can support all three dimensions of SDL and is one of the essential game elements in higher education; game elements can be used to direct students towards critical thinking activities, and thus support self-monitoring; choice can be used to support self-management, but is the most difficult to design; and intrinsic motivation can be supported by using appropriate reward structures and frequent feedback. 

References:

[1] Garrison, D.R., Self-directed learning: Toward a comprehensive model. Adult education quarterly, 1997. 48(1): p. 18-33.

[2] Deterding, S. et al. From game design elements to gamefulness: defining gamification. in Proceedings of the 15th international academic MindTrek conference: Envisioning future media environments. 2011.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The International Academy of Technology, Education and Development, 2019. p. 1764-1773
Series
EDULEARN Proceedings, ISSN 2340-1117
Keywords [en]
gamification, higher education, learning, self-directed learning
National Category
Pedagogy Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-40365DOI: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.0507ISBN: 978-84-09-12031-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-40365DiVA, id: diva2:1340941
Conference
11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies (EDULEARN19), Palma, Spain, 1-3 July, 2019
Available from: 2019-08-07 Created: 2019-08-07 Last updated: 2019-08-13Bibliographically approved

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Lindberg, Susanne

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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