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Wikipedia defines Gamification as "the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences." Khan Academy has received attention (e.g., see this post) for incorporating some elements of gamification into its online learning system.

Are there any scientific papers that seek to:

  • integrate the ideas of "gamification" into models of education and cognitive psychology?
  • critically and empirically evaluate the ideas of gamification for educational purposes?
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A popular lit review [1] discusses some game concepts that have been empirically tested to support the idea of gamification. In some cases, these may be very hard to quantify. For instance, the article cites fantasy as one gaming characteristic that engages gamers. Other characteristics, such as having clear, well defined rules/goals seem easier to objectify.

The authors also cite mystery, challenge (something hard but not too hard, with levels of increasing difficulty), sensory stimuli, and user control as important attributes as well.

[1] Garris et al. (2002). Games, Motivation, and Learning: A Research and Practice Model. Simulation and Gaming, 33, 441-467. Retrieved from http://scottsdale.brainadvantage.com/PDF/Games,%20Motivation,%20and%20Learning.pdf

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Malone and Lepper (1987) is often cited as the seminal paper regarding gamification for education. They started off by identifying factors which affect computer game preferences and then identified motivational factors. Habgood et al (2005) built on this taxonomy and developed a high quality game for supporting the teaching of division. My understanding is that the key finding from that study is that the motivating factors should ideally be linked to the learning material.

Malone, T. & Lepper (1987). Making Learning Fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations for Learning. In Snow, R. & Farr, M. J. (Ed), Aptitude, Learning, and Instruction Volume 3: Conative and Affective Process Analyses. Hillsdale, NJ

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I would also add this paper, which includes a critical discussion of the concept and proposes a working-definition for gamification in educational settings:

R. Rughinis, 2013, Gamification for productive interaction: Reading and working with the gamification debate in education

https://www.academia.edu/5758624/Gamification_for_Productive_Interaction._Reading_and_Working_with_the_Gamification_Debate_in_Education

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There are a lot of courses and literature about gamification in learning by Karl Kapp. http://karlkapp.com/articles/. Most of them are not scientific articles, but there are also books, courses and insturctions how to integrate these ideas. The topics you are asking for are partly discussed there.

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Punished By Rewards by Alfie Kohn puts it in a behaviorist perspective, and extensively criticizes gamification inspired by operant conditioning. (here is a scientific article, a counter-argument to the book)

Daniel Pink's Drive puts gamification in a humanist perspective. See here.

T. Reiners, L.C. Wood (eds.), Gamification in Education and Business (2014), chapter 9, put gamification in the perspective of motivational and learning theories. This seems like the best (and most recent!) scientific answer to your question. The frameworks used are classic conditioning, expectancy-based theories and self-determination theory.

The authors of the specific chapter are Landers, Bauer, Callan and Armstrong.

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