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Effects Of Gamification On Behavioral Change In Education: A Meta-Analysis

Jihoon Kim, Darla M. Castelli

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Background: Gamified reward systems, such as providing digital badges earned for specific accomplishments, are related to student engagement in educational settings. The purpose of this study was to conduct a meta-analytic review to quantify the effects of gamified interventions on student behavioral change. Methods: A meta-analysis was performed using the following databases: The Academic Search Complete, Communication & Mass Media Complete, Education Source, ERIC, Library Information Science & Technology Abstracts, and PsycINFO. Inclusion in the review required: (a) peer-reviewed conducted between 2010 and 2019, (b) experimental controlled design, (c) gamification elements, and (d) educational setting. Results: Using a random-effects model, a statistically significant (Cohen’s d (ES) = 0.48, 95% CI = 0.33, 0.62) gamification effect was evidenced by moderate and positive grand effects sizes (ES). Gamification effects were higher with adults in higher education (ES = 0.95) than K-12 students (ES = 0.92). Brief interventions delivered in days or less than 1 week were significantly more effective (ES = 1.57) than interventions lasting up to 20 weeks (ES = 0.30). Interventions incorporating gamification elements across years (ES = −0.20) was adversely associated with behavioral change. Conclusions: Findings suggest that short-term over longer-term gamified interventions might be a promising way to initiate changes in learner’s behaviors and improve learning outcome.