Loughborough University (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN19 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 3110-3118
ISBN: 978-84-09-12031-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.0841
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
Gamification is an umbrella term, meaning the implementation of video game elements in a non-video game environment in order to improve the user experience, and increase the user’s motivation and engagement (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011). When gamification is applied to education, it refers to ‘making learning experiences more engaging and game-like by using game design elements and game mechanics’ (Dicheva, Dichev, & Irwin, 2018, p. 1). Pupils’ motivation is one of the most important factors in the learning process (Çakıroğlu, Başıbüyük, Güler, Atabay, & Yılmaz Memiş, 2017; Lawlor, Marshall, & Tangney, 2016; Vallerand et al., 1992; Williams & Williams, 2011), and games characteristically possess a high level of motivational potential (Deterding, 2015; Dicheva et al., 2018; Hense & Mandl, 2014; Prensky, 2005; Przybylski, Rigby, & Ryan, 2010). Although previous studies have shown that the use of game elements may promote the desired user behaviour in different fields, some warn that it can decrease intrinsic motivation (Hamari, Koivisto, & Sarsa, 2014).

Grounded in a self-determination theory (SDT) framework (Deci & Ryan, 1991; Ryan & Deci, 1985), this study intends to understand the effect that playing an educational mobile game can have in stimulating pupils to engage in learning about recycling. The study focuses on students in early secondary education within the age group between 12-14 years.

In order to understand children’s motivation before and after they play an educational mobile game about recycling, pupils were asked to respond to a motivation scale survey. The Situational Motivation Scale (SIMS) is a 16-item measure of the self-determination of a person’s choice to participate in an activity (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; Standage, Duda, Treasure, & Prusak, 2003). Situational motivation refers to the motivation individuals experience when they are currently engaging in an activity.

The sample of this study was formed by 36 children in Portugal and in the UK (PT=20, UK=16). Findings show that the children’s intrinsic motivation scores increased over 10% after playing the recycling game. Although Identified Regulation (participating in an activity because the students value its outcomes) also increased 6%, this result show that the effects of playing the game on this type of extrinsic motivation were not so large compared to intrinsic motivation. Regarding the external regulation, there was an increase of 0.5% and, lastly, amotivation scores decreased 17,1%. These overall results seem to show an increase of the effect along the autonomy continuum, describing the extent to which pupils have been internalized and integrated in the activity. Although the findings regarding the two countries do not differ much, it is possible to observe that the Portuguese pupils were more highly motivated while they played the educational game, but the effect of playing the game was higher on the UK pupils’ motivation.

These overall results suggest that playing a mobile game could increase the intrinsic motivation and, therefore, decrease pupils’ amotivation, while having a small effect on students’ extrinsic motivation. Hence, gamification could be a useful tool in the classroom for this age group of children.
Motivation, Self-determination theory, gamification, education technology, secondary education.