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Gamification as a motivational tool for software systems, as illustrated in a second-language learning environment

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dc.contributor.advisor Buckley, Jim
dc.contributor.advisor Murray, Liam
dc.contributor.author Exton, Geraldine
dc.date.accessioned 2018-02-01T17:13:33Z
dc.date.available 2018-02-01T17:13:33Z
dc.date.issued 2017
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10344/6521
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description The second file on this record contains files referenced in the Appendix of the thesis.
dc.description.abstract This thesis aims to formalise the relationship between game elements and motivation, towards making gamification use more systematic. Gamification is “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts” (Deterding et al 2011b, p. 9), and it has been shown to be highly effective in motivating behaviour change across a range of applications. There is currently a gap in the literature where existing game elements are not related explicitly to the types of motivational needs they can support. By seeing game elements as “motivational affordances” (Zhang, 2008; Jung et al, 2010; Deterding, 2011b), gamification’s application across many different contexts can be improved, as the psychological needs of users are considered. It is clear that those involved in gamification are not always familiar with game design (Robinson & Bellotti, 2013). Similarly, attempts to make educational games have been derided for being like “chocolate-dipped broccoli” (Bruckman 1999, p. 75), showing a need for a systematised approach towards aiding the design of gamified educational applications. Such applications currently exist, and a constructive way to delve deeper into the effectiveness of gamification on motivation is to evaluate one such example in the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) field, the language-learning app Duolingo (2012). This research focuses on three areas. Initially, the focus is on the development of a proposed taxonomy linking commonly occurring game elements with the components of a psychological approach known as the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) of motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000a). The methodology employed is the gathering of a systematic literature review, followed by refinement after observations through a survey of a self-identified group of gaming experts, to answer Research Question 1: How are game elements related to motivational constructs? This proposed taxonomy is then used as an evaluative framework to examine Duolingo. This stage of the research necessitates two research questions. Research Question 2 focuses on the users of Duolingo: Can the framework profile SLA systems consistently with the users’ stated motivational perceptions of the system? Research Question 3 shifts the focus to the site’s designers: Can the framework profile SLA systems consistently with the system's declared motivational intent? The results of Content analysis on the two groups suggest that the framework is useful for offering guidelines for the iterative process of design needed for good gamification, and works well as a tool to aid in the analysis of existing examples of gamified learning, but needs some refinement. The research found that users are highly aware of the motivational possibilities of certain game elements, but that the use of these elements must be governed carefully, highly cognisant of users’ psychological needs, to avoid detracting from users’ intrinsic motivation. This thesis posits that the use of this framework as both a design tool, and for evaluation, will assist in the meeting of these psychological needs. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject gamification en_US
dc.subject design elements en_US
dc.subject systematic en_US
dc.title Gamification as a motivational tool for software systems, as illustrated in a second-language learning environment en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/doctoralThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.contributor.sponsor SFI en_US
dc.relation.projectid 12/CE/I2267 en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess en_US


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