A Critique and Defense of Gamification

Aaron Chia Yuan Hung
Adelphi University


Gamification has received increased attention in education in recent years, and is seen as a way to improve student engagement, motivation, attendance, and academic performance. While empirical studies on gamification in higher education are showing modest gains in some areas, this data can be difficult to interpret because of the many ways that gamification can be designed and implemented. Gamification is also controversial for appearing exploitative, seeming over-simplified, and having the tendency to rely on extrinsic motivation and learning analytics that may not translate to student learning. This paper provides a brief overview of gamification in higher education and looks at findings from recent empirical studies. It then examines its key criticisms as well as its potential contributions to improving instructional design in higher education. A practical example and a set of recommendations are provided to show how instructors new to gamification and interested in implementing it can adapt it for their courses.

About the Author(s)...

Aaron Chia Yuan Hung is Assistant Professor of Educational Technology at Adelphi University. His research interests include learning, communication, collaboration, and work in technology-mediated environments, with particular interest in video games. He is the author of The Work of Play, published by Peter Lang.

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