Studying the Impact of Gamification on Motivation in Remote Programming Education

Lauren Scott*, Nick Dalton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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With the increasing hybrid blend of face-to-face and remote study in the higher education, finding strategies to keep students motivated when working from home is pertinent. This paper describes gamification in online learning environments, from the viewpoint of individuals undertaking programming education. In this empirical study, both qualitative and quantitative research methods are employed to investigate the hypothesis that gamified motivational methods would increase students’ motivation when learning programming remotely at a higher education level. This hypothesis was formed following an observed motivational drop regarding studies during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with an observed consistency of engagement in the video games industry. An initial questionnaire with 90 respondents from multiple backgrounds explores game design elements as a concept and investigates the current or historical motivation of individuals working from home. Conclusions were drawn that participants’ motivation working from home were mixed, and that formative feedback and game design elements were perceived to be motivating to a learner, and these results were used to inform the design of two learner-centred virtual learning environments. These virtual learning environments were designed to facilitate programming tasks online in two settings: one being a traditional academic setting with staged communication with a virtual tutor, and the second being a gamified setting, completing missions and gaining rewards in line with a storyline. These programming environments were then used in a practical, yet remote, experiment with 25 participants who were current university students, graduates or recent education-leavers. These experiments gained statistically significant results, showing that the gamified system and specific gamified elements were found to be considerably motivating to the learner. This work therefore makes the following contribution: that gamified elements such as badges, rewards and missions do increase students’ motivation when engaging with virtual learning environments for programming. This work is relevant for programming and Computing educators, digital education researchers and gamification researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th European Conference on e-Learning
Subtitle of host publicationECEL 2021
EditorsIng Carsten Busch, Regina Frieß, Martin Steinicke, Til Wendler
Place of PublicationReading
PublisherAcademic Conferences International Limited
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781914587191
ISBN (Print)9781914587184
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021
Event20th European Conference on e-Learning - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 28 Oct 202129 Oct 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning
PublisherAcademic Conferences International
ISSN (Print)2048-8637


Conference20th European Conference on e-Learning
Abbreviated titleECEL


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