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M. Ortiz1, K. Chiluiza2, M. Valcke3

1Ghent University (BELGIUM) / Information Technology Center CTI-ESPOL (ECUADOR)
2Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral - ESPOL (ECUADOR)
3Ghent University (BELGIUM)
In recent years, gamification, the use of game elements in non- game contexts, has drawn the attention of educators due to the possibility of making learning more motivating and engaging, which has led to an increase of research in the field. Despite the availability of literature reviews about gamification and its effects, no work to this date has focused exclusively on Higher Education (HE). Furthermore, worldwide there has been an increasing demand of skilled Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals, that can meet the expectations of the scientific and technological innovations of the 21st Century. This lead to the need of strengthening STEM Higher Education. This brings us to the purpose of this work: presenting a systematic literature review of empirical studies about gamification STEM related Higher Education. This review study started from a systematic mapping design of ‘Web of Science’ articles, with the following inclusion criteria: empirical gamification studies set up in HE, published between 2000 and 2016; focusing on undergraduate or graduate students; in the STEM knowledge field, and set up in authentic settings. An initial search resulted in 562 potentially relevant articles. After applying all selection criteria, only 18 studies could be retained. 12 additional articles were included by analyzing references from earlier literature reviews, resulting in 30 studies to be included in the analysis phase. Analysis results show how a combination of game elements (e.g. leaderboards, badges, points and other combinations) positively affect students' performance, attendance, goal orientation and attitude towards mostly computer science related subjects. The analysis results also point at a lack of studies in certain STEM areas, a lack of studies that are able to identify what particular game element creates the differential impact on student performance; and a lack of focus on particular student variables that could/should be taken into account as mediating/moderating variables clarifying the impact of gamification in the HE focus on STEM learning and teaching.