Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Gamification is defined as the addition of game-like elements and mechanics to non-game contexts to encourage certain desired behaviors. It is becoming a popular classroom intervention used in computer science instruction, including CS1, the first course computer science students take. It is being operationalized to enhance students' learning experience and achievement. However, existing studies have mostly implemented reward-based game elements which have resulted to contrasting behaviors among the students. Meaningful gamification, characterized as the use of game design elements to encourage users build internal motivation to behave in a certain way, is contended to be a more effective approach. The foundation of this concept is the 'Self-Determination Theory', which states that there are three components associated with intrinsic motivation: mastery, autonomy, and relatedness. This paper describes the first part of a research on the exploration of how a tool founded on meaningful gamification will affect the achievement and learning experience of novice programmers. It focuses on the design and implementation of a programming-based activity management system embedded with game design elements that map to the different components of the Self-Determination Theory. The elements employed are: feedback cycles, freedom to fail, and progress to support mastery; control to enable autonomy; and collaboration for relatedness. CS1 instructors invited for an expert evaluation generally agree that said elements are present in the system.