Teachers’ Perception of Gamification as a Teaching Design

Eva Mårell-Olsson

pp. 70 - 100, download






This paper reports on a study investigating teachers’ experiences of using gamification as a teaching strategy, in combination with the use of contemporary and emergent technologies in K–12 education. More specifically, the aim was to explore and understand the opportunities and challenges teachers describe by using gamification in teaching. The study was conducted between 2014 and 2018 and included four sub-studies in which university students were given the task of designing gamified teaching activities for school students within K–12 education. This was combined with the use of contemporary technologies such as laptops, media tablets, and emergent technologies such as smart glasses. The university students’ gamification designs were tested in school settings within K–12 education. The empirical material is based on observations of the schools’ tests and interviews with participating teachers. The findings illustrate three emerging themes concerning (a) fostering motivation and collaboration,(b) needing pedagogical balance to achieve deeper learning and (c)organisational changes regarding time and collaboration in teacher teams. The participating teachers described gamification as an opportunity and a catalyst to motivate school students and have them engage in schoolwork while acquiring knowledge at the same time. However, the challenges and obstacles the teachers perceived in using and designing their own teaching activities using gamification primarily concerned a lack of time and a lack of knowledge of the design process, which they perceived as very complex because it differs from that of their ordinary teaching designs.


Keywords: gamification, teaching strategy, teacher experiences, pedagogical balance, digital technologies



1. Skolinspektionen.: Fysik utan dragningskraft. En kvalitetsgranskning om lusten att lära fysik i grundskolan [Physics without attraction. A quality review of the desire to teach physics in compulsory school], (2010)

2. Skolinspektionen.: Mer varierad läs- och skrivundervisning kan öka motivation och intresse [More varied reading and writing lessons can increase motivation and interest], (2015)

3. Skolinspektionen.: Utmaningar i undervisningen [Challenges in teaching], (2016)

4. Gee, J. P.: What videogames have to teach us about learning and literacy, Palgrave Macmillan, (2003)https://doi.org/10.1145/950566.950595

5. Hamari, J., Koivisto, J., Sarsa, H.: Does gamification work?,  In: 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), (2014)https://doi.org/10.1109/HICSS.2014.377

6. Sitzmann, T. A.: A meta-analytic examination of the instructional effectiveness of computer-based simulation games., Personnel Psychology, 64(2), pp. 489–528 (2011)https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2011.01190.x

7. Becker,P., Taawo. A.: 1.1 satsningar i Sverige [1:1 initiatives in Sweden], (2017) [Online]. Available: http://www2.diu.se/framlar/egen-dator/

8. Ferrara, J.: Playful design: Creating Game Experiences in Everyday Interfaces, Rosenfeld Media, (2012)

9. Kapp, K. M.: The gamification of learning and instruction, Pfeiffer, (2012)

10. Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., Nacke. L.: From game design elements to gamefulness—Defining gamification, In: Proceedings of the 15th MindTrek Conference, pp. 9-15, (2011)https://doi.org/10.1145/2181037.2181040

11. Chou, Y. K.: Actionable gamification, Octalysis Media, (2015) 

12. Dicheva, D. Dichev,. C., Agre., G., Aangelova, G.: Gamification in education: A systematic mapping study, In: Educational Technology & Society, Vol.18 (3), p.75-88 (2015) 

13. Deci, E., Ryan, R..: Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior, Plenum Press, (1985)https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-2271-7

14. Lei, S.: Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: Evaluating benefits and drawbacks from college instructors’ perspectives, Journal of Instructional Psychology, 37(2), pp. 153–160, (2010)

15. Huotari K., Hamari, J.: Defining gamification: A service marketing perspective, In: Proceedings of the 16th International Academic MindTrek Conference 2012, Envisioning future media environments, MindTrek 20., Tampere, (2012) https://doi.org/10.1145/2393132.2393137

16. S. Papworth, T. Mejtoft.: Using game mechanics for motivational design in products and services, In: A. Sinha, J. Cadeaux, T. Bucic (Eds.), 2015 ANZMAC Conference, pp. 1047-1054, (2015)

17. Mårell-Olsson, E.: University students as co-creators in designing gamification teaching activities using emergent technologies in Swedish K–12 education, International Journal on Interaction Design and Architecture (IxD&A), 42, pp. 47–69, (2019)https://doi.org/10.55612/s-5002-042-003

18. Mårell-Olsson, E., Mejtoft, T., Jahnke, I.: Designing for collaborative learning expeditions by using wearable technology and smart glasses, In: Exploring the material conditions of learning: CSCL Conference 2015. The International Society of the Learning Sciences, (2015). 

19. Cunningham, D., Zichermann, G.: Gamification by design, O Reilly Media, (2011)

20. Bundsgaard, J.,  Hansen, T. I.: Blik på undervisning: Rapport om observationsstudier af undervisning gennemført i demonstrationsskoleforsøgene [Perspectives on teaching: Report on observational studies of teaching carried out in the demonstration school experiments], Læremiddel.dk., (2016)

21. Jahnke, I., Mårell-Olsson, E., Mejtoft, T.: Organizing teaching in project teacher teams across established disciplines using wearable technology—Digital didactical designing a new form of practice, pp. s. 169-185, Routledge, (2016)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315693729

22. Mejtoft, T., Lindberg, L., Söderström, U, Mårell-Olsson, E.: Feedback in commercial educational applications: Guidelines and conceptual framework, In: European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics 2017 (ECCE 2017), pp. 113-120 (2017) https://doi.org/10.1145/3121283.3121286

23. Ansell, M., Marshall, S.: What does research-informed teaching look like?, University Alliance and Higher Education Academ, (2016) 

24. Dumont, H., Istance, D., Benavides, F.: The nature of learning: Using research to inspire practice., OECD, (2010) https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264086487-en

25. Rocard, M., Csermely, P.,  Jorde, D.,  Lenzen, D., Walberg-Henriksson, H., Hemmo, V.: Science education now: A renewed pedagogy for the future of Europe, Europakommisionen, (2007)

26. Bocconi, S., Kampylis, P., Punie, Y.: Framing ICT-enabled innovation for learning: The case of one-to-one learning initiatives in Europe, 48(1), pp. 113–130, (2013)https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12021

27. Zucker, A. A., Light, D.: Laptop programs for students., Science, 323, pp. 82–85, (2009)https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1167705

28. Tallvid, M.: 1:1 i klassrummet - analyser av en pedagogisk praktik i förändring. [1: 1 in the classroom - analyses of a changing pedagogical practice], Doctoral dissertation, University of Gothenburg, (2015) 

29. National digitalisation strategy for Swedish schools.: (2017) 

30. Koehler, M. J., Mishra, P., Cain, W.: What is technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)?, Journal of Education, 193(3), pp. 13–19, (2013)https://doi.org/10.1177/002205741319300303

31. Bergström, P., Mårell-Olsson, E., Jahnke, I.: Variations of symbolic power and control in the one-to-one computing classroom: Swedish teachers’ enacted didactical design decisions, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 63(1), pp. 38–52, (2019)https://doi.org/10.1080/00313831.2017.1324902

32. Jahnke, I., Bergström, P., Mårell-Olsson, E., Häll, L., Kumar, S.: Digital didactical designs as research framework: iPad integration in Nordic schools., Computers and Education, 113, pp. 1–15, (2017) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2017.05.006

33. Mårell-Olsson, E., Bergström, P.: Digital transformation in Swedish schools—Principals’ strategic leadership and organisation of tablet-based one-to-one computing initiatives., Seminar.net—International Journal of Media, Technology and Lifelong Leearning, 14(2), pp. 174–187, (2018) https://doi.org/10.7577/seminar.2978

34. Håkansson Lindqvist, M. J. P.: Possibilities and challenges for TEL from student perspective through the uptake and use of digital technologies in a 1:1 initiative, Education Inquiry, 4(4), pp. 629–647, (2013)https://doi.org/10.3402/edui.v4i4.23223

35. Andersson, A., Wiklund, M., Hatakka, M.: Emerging collaborative and cooperative practices in 1:1 schools, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 25(4), pp. 413-430, (2016) https://doi.org/10.1080/1475939X.2015.1060896

36. Player-Koro, C., Tallvid, M.: One laptop on each desk: Teaching methods in technology rich classrooms., Seminar.net: Media, Technology and Lifelong Learning, 11(3), (2015)https://doi.org/10.7577/seminar.2346

37. Bergström, P., Mårell-Olsson, E.: Power and control in the one-to-one computing classroom: Students’ perspectives on teachers’ didactical design., Seminar.net—International Journal of Media, Technology and Lifelong learning, 14(2), pp. 160–173., (2018) https://doi.org/10.7577/seminar.2972

38. Mårell-Olsson, E., Bergström, P. Jahnke, I.: Is the tablet a teacher or a student tool? Emergent practices in the tablet-based one-to-one computing classroom, In: Emergent practices and material condition in teaching and learning with technology, Springer, pp. 89–105, (2019)https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-10764-2_6

39. Jonassen, D. H.: Computers as mindtools for schools: Engaging critical thinking (2nd ed.), Merrill, (2000) 

40. Jonassen, D. H., Howland, J., Moore, J., Marra, R. M.: Learning to solve problems with technology: A constructivist perspective (2nd ed.), Prentice-Hall, (2003) 

41. McLuhan, M.: The medium is the massage, Penguin Books, (1967) 

42. Jahnke, I.: Digital didactical designs—Teaching and learning in CrossActionSpaces, Routledge, (2016) https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315681702

43. Jahnke, I., Norberg, A.: Digital didactics—Scaffolding a new normality of learning, [Online]. Available: http://blogs.ec.europa.eu/openeducation2030/ (2013)

44. Jahnke, I., Mårell-Olsson, E., Norqvist, L., Olsson, A., Norberg, A.: Digital didactical designs—Reimagining designs for teaching and learning, In: ICED2014 Educational Development in a Changing World, Stockholm, (June 16–18), (2014)https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-11200-8_13

45. Mårell-Olsson, E.: Att göra lärandet synligt? Individuella utvecklingsplaner och digital dokumentation [Making learning visible? Personal development planning and digital documentation], Doctoral dissertation, Umeå University, (2012) 

46. Kim, C. M., Kim, M. K., Lee, C., Spector, M., DeMeester, K.: Teacher beliefs and technology integration, Teaching and teacher education: An international journal of research and studies, pp. 76-85 (2013)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2012.08.005

47. Ejsing-Duun, S., Skovbjerg, H.: Copycat or creative innovator? Reproduction as a pedagogical strategy in schools., Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 14(2), pp. 83–93, (2016)

48. McGonigal, J.: Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world, Penguin, (2011)

49. Media, C. S.: The Common Sense census: Media use by tweens and teens, https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/ uploads/research/census_executivesummary.pdf, (2015)

50. Statens Medieråd.: Ungar & medier 2017 [Youth & media 2017], (2017)

51. Sicart, M.: Defining game mechanics, International Journal of Computer Game Research, 8(2), (2008)

52. Pintrich, P., Schunk, D. H.: Motivation in education: Theory, research and applications., Prentice-Hall, (1996)

53. Jakobsson, A. K.: Motivation och inlärning ur genusperspektiv. En studie av gymnasieelever på teoretiska linjer/program [Motivation and learning from a gender perspective. A study of high school students on theoretical programs], Doktoral dissertation: ACTA UNIVERSITATIS GOTHOBURGENSIS, (2000) 

54. Gage, N. L., Berliner, D. C.: Educational psychology., Rand McNally, (1979) 

55. Silvernail, D. L., Gritter, A. K.: Maine’s middle school laptop program: Creating better writers, Maine Education Policy Research Institute, (2007)

56. Zucker, A. A., Hug, S. T.: Teaching and learning physics in a 1:1 laptop school, Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17(6), pp. 586–594, (2008)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-008-9125-3

57. Lee, J., Hammer, J.: Gamification in education: What, how, why bother?, Academic Exchange Quarterly, 15(2), pp. 1-5 (2011)

58. Sailer, M., Hense, J. U., Mayr, S. K., Mandl, H.: How gamification motivates: An experimental study of the effects of specific game design elements on psychological need satisfaction, Computers in Human Behavior, 69, pp. 371–380, (2016)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.033

59. Csíkszentmihályi, M.: Flow: The psychology of optimal experience (1st Harper Perennial Modern Classics ed.), Harper Perennial, (2008)

60. Albertazzi, D., Ferreira, M. G. G., Forcellini, F. A.: A wide view on gamification, Technology, Knowledge and Learning , (2018)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-018-9374-z

61. Attali, Y., Arieli-Attali, M.: Gamification in assessment: Do points affect test performance?, Computers & Education, 83, pp. 57–63, (2015)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2014.12.012

62. Landers, R., Armstrong, M. B.: Enhancing instructional outcomes with gamification: An empirical test of the Technology-Enhanced Training Effectiveness Model., 71, (2015)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.031

63. de-Marcos, L., Hilera, J. R., Barchino, R., Jiménez, L., Martínez, J. J., Gutiérrez, J. A., Gutiérrez, J. M., Otón, S.: An experiment for improving students’ performance in secondary and tertiary education by means of m-learning auto-assessm, Computers & Education, 55(3), (2010)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2010.05.003

64. Zweirs, J., O’Hara, S., Pritchard, R.: Common core standards in diverse classrooms: Essential practices for developing academic language and disciplinary literacy, Stenhouse, (2014)

65. Appleton, J. J., Christenson, S. L., Kim, D., Reschly, A. L.: Measuring cognitive and psychological engagement: Validation of the student engagement instrument, Journal of School Psychology, 44(5), pp. 427–445, (2006)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2006.04.002

66. Sanmugam, M., Zaid, N., Mohamed, H., Abdullah, Z., Aris, B., Suhadi, S. Md.: Gamification as an educational technology tool in engaging and motivating students: An analyses review, Advanced Science Letters, 21, (2015)https://doi.org/10.1166/asl.2015.6489

67. Sadler, D. R.: Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems, Instructional Science, 18(2), pp. 119–144, (1989)https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00117714

68. Hattie, J., Timperley, H.: The power of feedback, Review of Educational Research, 77(1), (2007)https://doi.org/10.3102/003465430298487

69. Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., Ryan, M. R.: A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation, Psychological Bulletin, 125, pp. 627–668, (1999)https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.125.6.627

70. Thom, D. R., Dimicco, M., Street, R.: Removing gamification from an enterprise SNS, In: Proceedings of the ACM 2012 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, (2012)https://doi.org/10.1145/2145204.2145362

71. Zichermann, G.: Gamification is here to stay, The Atlantic, (2011)

72. Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Hall, C.: 2015 NMC technology outlook for Scandinavian schools, The New Media Consortium, (2015)

73. Bartle, R.: Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: Players who suit MUDs, Journal of MUD Research, 1(1), (1996)

74. Leontiev, A. N.: Verksamhet, medvetande, personlighet: Tätigkeit, Bewusstsein, Persönlichkeit = Activity, consciousness, personality = Activité, conscience, personnalité, Progress, (1986)

75. Nardi, B.: Context and consciousness: Activity theory and human-computer interaction, MIT Press, (1996)https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/2137.001.0001

76. Wang, F., Hannafin, M. J.: Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments, Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), pp. 5–23, (2005)https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02504682

77. Patton, M. Q.: Qualitative evaluation and research methods (3rd ed.), Sage, (1990) 

78. Vetenskapsrådet [Swedish Research Council].: God forskningssed [Good research practice], (2017)

79. Ely, M.: Doing qualitative research., Falmer Press, 1(991)https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203448502

80. Boyatzis, R.: Thematic analysis and code development: Transforming qualitative information, Sage Publication, (1998)

81. Creswell, J. W.: Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.), SAGE Publications, (2013)



back to Table of Contents