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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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Relevant but not specific to education:… – Ben Brocka Jan 19 '12 at 17:30
games in education are very old, even ancient of course. video games are newer.... – vzn Apr 8 '14 at 17:57
up vote 10 down vote accepted

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,%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

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