Engaging children with educational content via gamification

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Nand, Kalpana
Baghaei, Nilufar
Casey, John
Barmada, Bashar
Mehdipour, F.
Liang, H.N.
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Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
primary schools
educational technology
Nand, K., Baghaei, N., Casey, J., Barmada, B., Mehdipour, F., & Liang, H-N. (2019). Engaging Children with Educational Content via Gamification. Smart Learning Environments, 6 (6), 1-15. doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s40561-019-0085-2
Gamification is the application of game mechanisms in non-gaming environments with the objective of enhancing user experience. In this paper, we investigate the effectiveness of gamification in an educational context, i.e. teaching numeracy at a primary school level. We study the appealing characteristics of engaging computer games from children’s point of view and investigate whether embedding the proposed characteristics into an educational tool enhances children’s learning. The main characteristics we identify are levels of difficulties, feedback from the current level, and graphical presentation. They were then embedded into a Java-based open-source program based on “Who wants to be a millionaire” TV show, with the aim of teaching children numeracy (level 5 New Zealand curriculum). Two versions were created: feature enriched game (FEG) with all the features enabled and feature devoid game (FDG) with no extra features. We present the results of an evaluation study done with primary school children (n = 120) over a period of two weeks. The effectiveness of the educational tool was measured using a pre-test and a post-test, as well as other indicators such as the frequency and duration of the interaction. Results show that the FEG version was more effective in enhancing children’s learning and they found it more engaging.
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