Identifying Meaningful Gamification-Based Elements Beneficial to Novice Programmers

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Conference Proceeding

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Gamification is defined as the use of game design elements in non-game contexts to encourage certain behaviors. It is becoming a popular intervention used in computer science learning environments, including CS1. However, prior works have mostly implemented reward-based game elements which have resulted in varying behaviors among students. Meaningful gamification, described as the use of game design elements to encourage intrinsic motivation, is said to be a more student-centric approach. It is based on the concept of the Self-Determination Theory which states that there are three components associated with intrinsic motivation: mastery, autonomy, and relatedness. In this paper, we explore what gamification elements were beneficial to novice programmers. It looked into students’ use of elements implemented into a system that allow them to take assessment activities typical of CS1. The elements are: feedback cycles, freedom to fail, and progress to support mastery; control to enable autonomy; and collaboration for relatedness. Control, freedom to fail, and feedback were the elements students used to their advantage since these allowed them to work towards improving their scores in the activities.