Gamification of the Learning Process

Guest Editors


• Davide Carneiro, ESTG, Politécnico do Porto, Portugal

• María-Pilar Cáceres-Reche, University of Granada, Spain

• Mariana Reimão Carvalho, ESTG, Politécnico do Porto, Portugal

• Rui Silva, CETRAD, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD)


Important dates


• Deadline: March 31, 2022 -> April 30, 2022
• Notification to the authors: June 15, 2022
• Camera ready paper: June 31, 2022
• Publication of the special issue: July/August, 2022




In the last years, the teacher-learner relationship has been undergoing profound and significant changes. In a first moment, the inclusion of ICT allowed for synchronous/asynchronous remote interactions between teacher and student, or the sharing of digital content. These changes, while facilitating the interaction through a sense of virtual presence, also have the disadvantage of physically separating the teacher from the student, leaving aside all the human factors that are relevant for any communication process, in particular for learning success. Until recently, these disadvantages were attenuated as distance learning was more of a choice than an imposition, and by no means the norm. Since the covid pandemic, however, distance learning became mandatory in many countries for large periods of time. As similar events may occur, measures must be taken so that their negative effects on the quality of the learning process are mitigated. 

One particularly important aspect is that of student motivation. In the classroom, stimuli that can cause distractions are generally limited. Moreover, the presence of the teacher helps not only in controlling these stimuli but also in keeping students focused. However, this is generally not so when students must engage in a learning activity autonomously and outside the academic environment. In these cases, amotivation, lack of focus, and a plethora of stimuli competing for the student’s attention may have a negative influence on learning performance and outcomes. This is especially true in younger students, who have still not developed certain strategies to effectively cope with these situations.

This special issue tackles the issue of student motivation, whether in traditional or distance learning, and how technology can be used to improve it. Indeed, recent technological developments in several fields have shifted the role of technology from a simple enabler of communication to that of an augmenter of the student-teacher relationship. The learning process can now be augmented in multiple dimensions, achieving goals such as teaching personalization, efficient communication processes, better content management, among others. While these developments are relevant in any form of learning, they are much more so in Blended or Distance Learning. In these forms of learning, in which students are often physically apart from the teacher, maintaining adequate levels of engagement and motivation is a major challenge. The use of technologies that are interactive, appealing, and provide a sense of reward for learning tasks are thus paramount.


This Special Issue focuses on a relatively recent topic that meets these requirements: Gamification. Gamification can be briefly defined as the use of game elements in an otherwise nongame environment. In education, game elements can include simple aspects such as a change in language or assignments, to the implementation of competitions, rewards, leaderboards, or the use of actual games to implement and test the learned concepts. These changes in the process, which are often simple, have been shown to improve student engagement, enthusiasm, motivation, overall satisfaction with the learning process, and learning outcomes.

However, as in any other process that is significantly changed, there are also risks. The inclusion of game elements generally makes the learning process less formal, which may or may not be positive. Namely, teachers need to be sure to follow appropriate learning frameworks, whether they were designed specifically for the use of gamification or not, so that a certain structure is maintained to support student progress. A clear risk in this regard is that the learning process is changed so significantly that it no longer meets the original goals or follows appropriate teaching/learning methodologies.

Gamification also usually encompasses some level of competition. While intended to be healthy and motivating, this competition may result in added pressure for students who are not of the competitive type, and actually work against their motivation. There is thus the need to encompass certain human factors of the class, namely psychological ones. This is particularly challenging as each class will be a different one, and react differently to the challenges that the use of game element poses. 

The implementation of such processes may also encompass costs. These can be very varied but may include time costs (as the teacher will have to invest a significant amount of time in changing existing practices) as well as software and/or hardware costs, if specific tools are needed. At best, these costs may constitute a general barrier to adoption. In the worst case, when these costs transfer to students through an increase in fees, for instance, gamification may exacerbate already existing socio-economical discrimination. This also happens if the new activities require the use of new complex tools.

The introduction of game elements in the classroom, whether virtually or in presence, is thus by no means straightforward. This Special Issue aims to tackle this complexity by calling for papers from different fields, including but not limited to Gamification, Education, Teaching/Learning frameworks, Psychology, The Law, ICT or Artificial Intelligence, under the common umbrella of Gamification in the Education Process. Both applied and theoretical works are welcome, but real case studies will be preferred, from which valuable lessons can be learned and shared.


Topics of Interest


The indicative list of topics of interest for this special issue devoted to Gamification of the Learning Process' includes, but is not limited to: 

Gamification in the classroom

Gamification in distance learning

Use of digital/physical games in the grading process

Innovative game elements

Serious games

Gamification in STEAM

Collaborative tools in education

Storytelling in teaching/learning

Gamification and student motivation

Psychology and Human factors

Gamification design principles

Gamification frameworks

Practical use cases of gamification in education

Legal aspects of using gamification in education


Submission procedure 


All submissions must be original and may not be under review by another publication.

The manuscripts should be submitted anonymized either in .doc or in .pdf format. 
All papers will be blindly peer-reviewed by at least two reviewers. Perspective participants are invited to submit a 8-20 pages paper (including authors' information, abstract, all tables, figures, references, etc.). 
The paper should be written according to the IxD&A authors' guidelines .

Submission page -> link
(when submitting the paper please choose the section: 'SI: Gamification of the Learning Process')

For scientific advices and for any query please contact the guest-editor:


• dcarneiro [at] estg [dot] ipp [dot] pt

• mrc [at] estg [dot] ipp [dot] pt  
• ruisilva [at] utad [dot] pt 


marking the subject as: 'IxD&A special issue on Gamification of the Learning Process.