For applied purposes, gamification can be captured within a self-determination theoretical framework. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is an influential theory of motivation which grew out of research on intrinsic/extrinsic rewards in the 1970's, and which has been applied to virtually every learning setting. The main proponents of SDT include Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, who in and of themselves have a lot of publications you may want to sift through.
SDT holds that people become motivated to engage in work based on three properties: autonomy, competence and relatedness. Autonomy refers to a desire to experience feelings of individual freedom in how and when to perform the task; Competence refers to a desire to experience feelings of control and mastery from performing a task; Relatedness refers to a desire to experience feelings of connection to others from performing the task.
Further, SDT also makes a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Ryan and Deci, 2000). In more complex settings, this distinction becomes extremely important. However, for the purpose of encouraging participation in "mundane, required workplace training," it is likely not necessary to consider intrinsic motivation. An analysis of the degree to which any external rewards employed in implemented gamification techniques may reduce intrinsic motivation to engage in mundane workplace training seems to me like shooting birds with cannonballs.
Following Aparacio et al. (2000), gamification techniques can be evaluated in terms of their motivational autonomy, competence and relatedness properties. A brief summary of their recommendations for evaluating gamification techniques follows.
- Identify the main objective.
- Identify one or more underlying objectives that are interesting to people.
- Select game mechanics that match the objectives and support autonomy, competence and relation.
- Analysis of the effectiveness gamification based on fun, quality indicators, satisfaction, and service quality.
Aparicio, A. F., Vela, F. L. G., Sánchez, J. L. G., & Montes, J. L. I. (2012, October). Analysis and application of gamification. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Interacción Persona-Ordenador (p. 17). ACM.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 54-67.