Careful use of Gamification in SCA Courses

At Swiss Connect Academy we provide a Leadership and Management Training using popular standards and techniques established in the field of Online Adult Education. We present our learners with an Learning Experience Platform that is constantly updated to better accommodate their wishes and needs.

A current popular trend is Gamification used in an educational context to improve Learning Transfer.
  It is generally understood that more engagement with the learning content should lead to an improved performance. Gamification is “the implementation of video game elements in a non-gaming setting” [1] and is often used as a tool to increase this engagement leading to better learning transfer and better results in general [2].

The engagement of the learners depends on their motivation. There is intrinsic and extrinsic motivation but only intrinsic motivation leads to a long-lasting  engagement with the learning materials and therefore an improvement in performance [3]. It was shown that the academic achievements are improved by 15.2% when internal motivation can be heightened by just 1% [4].

These findings are crucial to us at Swiss Connect Academy when creating our courses.

Popular Gamification methods to increase engagement are including points, badges, and leaderboards on a Learning Experience Platform. Points alone were shown to not be of great value when wanting to create an engaging experience for learners while leaderboards have shown mixed results concerning improved motivation. Leaderboards inspire competition among the learners and while for some this might lead them to push harder for good results and more points to appear on top of the leaderboard, others might get discouraged seeing the scores of others and being measured against them.

For this reason, we conducted a survey early on where we interviewed our learners whether leaderboards would encourage or discourage them. Our findings were that our learners preferred collaboration over competition hence why for the moment we discontinued having a leaderboard. It is important to us to give a voice to our participants and to accommodate their personal preferences and needs instead of solely following the current trends in education and Gamification.

As we have established, the way Gamification often awards learners is through points, badges, and sometimes leaderboards. All of those have shown to be effective in increasing motivation short-term when they are well implemented. Yet, those rewards are still a form of external reward for the most part. 

In a gamified environment the learners’ “focus gradually shifts from seeking rewards to completing tasks to fulfill internal desires” [1]. This means that the external rewards the gamified Learning Experience Platform provides should first inspire extrinsic motivation. This extrinsic motivation should then gradually redirect itself into an intrinsic motivation which then in turn leads to an increase in engagement and learning progress.

This is an assumption and might not be true for long-term learning in a gamified environment. This is why at Swiss Connect Academy we are careful when implementing gamification features and constantly checking back in with our learners through surveys or other forms of communication. In this way we let them be part of the creation of their own training and hopefully provide them with the best possible experience.


[1] Xu, J., Lio, A., Dhaliwal, H., Andrei, S., Balakrishnan, S., Nagani, U., & Samadder, S. (2021). Psychological interventions of virtual gamification within academic intrinsic motivation: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 293, 444–465.

[2] Landers, R. N., Bauer, K. N., Callan, R. C., & Armstrong, M. B. (2014). Psychological theory and the gamification of learning. Gamification in Education and Business, 165–186.

[3] Amrai, K., Motlagh, S. E., Zalani, H. A., & Parhon, H. (2011). The relationship between academic motivation and academic achievement students. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15, 399–402.

[4] Feri, R., Soemantri, D., & Jusuf, A. (2016). The relationship between autonomous motivation and autonomy support in medical students’ academic achievement. International Journal of Medical Education, 7, 417–423.

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