Press A+ To Play: The Emerging Field of Gamification in Higher Education




Elequin, Nathan

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Higher education faces a critical issue with producing and encouraging engagement in and out of the classroom, as students are finding more reasons to dismiss their coursework as a "means to an end" in the game of the degree-grab. Meanwhile, research from the unorthodox and previously-untapped field of game design offers to provide a unique solution to these educational concerns. In short, the newly-emerging field of gamification asks a simple question - how can we make the learning experience more meaningful and fun for the average student? In this expansion on the works of TEDx spokesperson Yu-Kai Chou and New York Times bestseller Jane McGonigal, I argue that game designers possess an invaluable expertise in holding the attention of and creating meaningful experiences for emerging adults. I then dissect the higher educational discipline from the perspective of a game engineer, to discuss and diagnose the critical failings of the institution in exciting and engaging its students. Finally, using Chou's pioneering Octalysis Framework, I will detail eight strategies for improving learning through a game design approach, concluding with a listed arsenal of engagement tools that be directly-applied to the programming and pedagogy of the classroom. By the end of this thesis, parents, student, educators, and administrators alike will have acquired actionable tools to increasing the enjoyment and engagement of their educational experiences.



Educational Psychology, Game Design, Gamification, Behavioral Economics