A. Hofer and I.Groher: Introducing Gamification in Introductory Programming Courses, 15th European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL 2021), Brighton, UK, September 23-24, 2021.


Gamification has developed markedly over the past decade and educational institutions, starting to see its potential, are carrying out research projects introducing gamification to the classroom. Likewise, gamification has also experienced major success in the market of casual language acquisition, with mobile applications such as Duolingo and Babbel using gamification to make learning a new language more engaging. Learning a new programming language is often challenging for students and can be compared to learning a new foreign language. Hence, the authors developed a proof-of- concept for an application adopting the gamification concepts found in the aforementioned language learning apps and plan to evaluate it in an introductory programming course at our university this fall. The proof-of-concept implements game design elements such as rewards, experience points, and achievements and will in later stages also include the element of leaderboards, which have produced promising results in previous research. To ease access for participating students, the application will be implemented as a web-based application, requiring no client-side installation. The course contents will be modelled closely to the subject matter of the accompanied lecture, with the webapp taking on a complementary role, thereby enabling students to interact with topics in an alternative way. Students of selected exercise groups will be made aware of the supportive application and compared with groups not aware of it. Students are not obligated to use the application. This should allow for a spread within groups between students who used the app and those who did not, enabling further comparison within the same exercise group. Use, impact, and user satisfaction will be evaluated with use statistics, students’ grades, and user surveys, respectively. The goal of our study is to evaluate whether the implementation of gamification in programming learning apps can improve students’ engagement with programming, thus furthering their skillset and lowering the dropout rate of the course.
Introducing Gamification in Introductory Programming Courses