Investigating the Impact of a Meaningful Gamification-Based Intervention on Novice Programmers’ Achievement

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Conference Proceeding

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Gamification is becoming a popular classroom intervention used in computer science instruction, including CS1, the first course computer science students take. It is being used as a medium to encourage certain student behaviors in anticipation of positive effects on learning experience and achievement. However, existing studies have mostly implemented reward-based game elements which have resulted to contrasting behaviors among students. Meaningful gamification, defined 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. This concept is founded on the ‘Self-Determination Theory’, which states that there are three components associated with intrinsic motivation: mastery, autonomy, and relatedness. This study describes the analysis of data collected from an experiment where students of an introductory programming class used a system embedded with elements that map to the components of the Self-Determination Theory: feedback cycles, freedom to fail, and progress to support mastery; control to enable autonomy; and collaboration for relatedness. It looks into whether the experimental group performed significantly better than the control group. It also tries to explore how different user types respond to the different game design elements.