Assessing the Role of Cultural Diversity in the Effectiveness of Gamification to Improve Statistics Learning Experiences by Online, Blended, and On-Campus Course Settings

Research

Brief Abstract

The aim of the study was to examine how the effectiveness of gamification on learning experiences might be affected by different course settings such as online, blended and on-campus approaches and cultural differences.

Presenters

Cheng-Chia (Brian) Chen, PhD, is an assistant professor of public health in the Department of Public Health at University of Illinois at Springfield. He obtained a PhD in Health Behavior from the Department of Applied Health Science at Indiana University School of Public Health–Bloomington. Chen’s research is broadly focused on health promotion, health policy analyses and online teaching technology. His recent research projects include investigating and developing a better understanding of social determinants of obesity and related health conditions to enhance strategies for intervention, prevention, and health policy making from multidimensional approaches. He teaches biostatistics for MPH students (for both online and on campus sections). He was selected as a Faculty Research Fellow for the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Extended Abstract

Background and Introduction:

Several recent studies have shown the potential of using educational games to enhance learning outcomes, however, there is little attention on evaluating various dimensions of the students’ reactions and their perception of gamification in different course settings such as online, blended and on-campus formats. Moreover, literature in the field indicates that studies with large sample sizes and consideration of students’ cultural diversity on gamification are still very limited. To fill these gaps in the literature, the objective of the research project was to investigate the effectiveness of online gamified learning activities with the consideration of course settings and cultural variations.

Method:

The researcher conducted an online survey of 128 graduate students’ perceptions of their statistics learning experiences such as learning motivation, level of interest, and confidence of skills learned at the end of class. Survey participants were graduate students who took their first introductory statistics class from 2015 to 2019 at a university in Illinois, USA. Students’ final grades and nationality were collected for the measure of learning outcome and cultural influences on game-based online learning. The graduate statistics class was delivered using three different course settings, including online, blended, and on-campus formats and taught by the same instructor. The first two dependent variables included the level of learning motivation and perception of the gamification usefulness towards the exam preparation. These two variables were measured using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Strongly Disagree and 5 = Strongly Agree). The third dependent variable was the exam score. The independent variables were course setting and cultural presence using a dichotomous measure (0 = domestic students and 1 = international students). Mann-Whitney U tests and Kruskal-Wallis H test were conducted to determine if there are differences of learning motivation and perceived usefulness of gamification among the course settings and cultural differences.

Results:

Mann-Whitney U tests were conducted to determine whether there were differences in students’ perceptions of usefulness and cultural influences on game-based online learning. The usefulness for preparing the exams from studying and playing review games was greater for the international students when compared with domestic students, U = 1106.00, p < .01. Compared to domestic students, international students felt they had done better on exams because of the facilitation of learning outcome due to the participation of the educational games, U = 1213.00, p < .01. Finally, the learning motivation from playing games was greater for the international students when it was compared with the domestic students, U = 723.00, p < .001. A Kruskal-Wallis H test showed that there was a statistically significant difference in exam score among three different course settings, H(2) = 6.18, p < 0.05, with a mean exam score of 120.83 for the online format, 134.03 for the blended format and 129.71 for the on-campus section. The highest possible total exam score is 150 points. The results from pairwise comparisons of three course settings indicate that the blended course format significantly differed from the on-campus session. However, the online course did not significantly differ from the on-campus and blended format courses.

Conclusion:

The researcher concluded that successful implementation of educational games in class is a useful tool to increase learning motivation and enhance learning outcomes. Nevertheless, for more effective delivery of gamification, cultural diversity factors have to be in line with purposeful gamification. Future research has to examine if there are more subtle variations of learning between online and blended course formats.

Interactive Sessions:

During the presentation and interactive sessions, participants will:

  1. Justify strategies for implementation of educational games with a variety of session participants’ own course settings
  2. Relate real-world student-instructor cases and conversations of perceptions of gamified learning experiences to online/blended course design and delivering methods
  3. Discuss the feasibility to construct a new teaching model that takes advantage of the integration of gamification and online/blended teaching technology