Politécnico do Porto - Escola Superior de Educação (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 294-304
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.0114
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Some researchers, such as Neto (2010), Flores (2015), and Cruz & Quadros-Flores (2021), among others, argue that the current education system is still not following the interests or tastes of pupils. In fact, present-day pupils process information differently and, generally speaking, the educational system does not always meet their needs.

However, the arrival and quite rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades, including the changes induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, made teachers step into rethinking the way they teach, by experimenting with new approaches and strategies. Teachers should seek to update their skills, mainly in the domain of technologies, to be able to keep up with the current generation of learners. Using elements that pupils are familiar with, whether computers or mobile devices, in a classroom context, greater proximity between pupils and teachers can be fostered, and hence motivation and participation can also be stimulated.

Taking all this into account, we believe that an Experiential Communicative Approach (Cruz & Tavares, 2013), which resorts to digital technologies and gamification pedagogy, should be fostered within Foreign Languages Teaching, including Primary English Teaching. Moreover, we think teachers should study the way their practices could be enhanced to truly meet their pupils' needs and interests, as much as possible (Farah-Jarjoura, 2015).

This paper aims to present an action-research study (Latorre, 2003), carried out with children (3rd graders) at a primary school in the Oporto area, Portugal, which focuses on the contributions of digital gamification to the learning of English as a Foreign Language at a Primary School setting, especially towards pupils’ motivation, more precisely interest and participation, as well as their behavior. Therefore, our research questions are the following: a) what is the contribution of digital gamified activities to the interest and participation of primary school pupils?; b) do pupils show different attitudes towards activities with and without gamification?; c) what is the relevance of digital gamification for teaching English at primary school?

The epistemological and methodological perspective chosen in carrying out this action-research study was mostly quantitative with contours of the action-research perspective, although we also used the qualitative one in the triangulation and interpretation of results. While undertaking the study, we have assumed a critical role concerning the results obtained, always seeking to reflect on our practice and looking for ways to improve it. We set out to observe a class continuously at different times, their behavior, interest, and participation, trying to interact naturally and discreetly, to minimize the effects that may be caused on the research subjects. Various data collection tools were used, namely: observation records, questionnaires, and interviews.

Through the results obtained, it was verified that digital gamification can contribute to an increase in motivation, which in turn improved the behavior and the involvement of the pupils. Moreover, we would like to highlight that one of the many benefits of gamified activities is the possibility of letting pupils experience learning actively.
Digital gamification, motivation, primary English teaching.