Exploring the inner workings of the leaderboard for use in educational contexts
André de la Porte, Sjoerd
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How can we make tedious, repetitive, and difficult tasks on the computer more engaging and fun? Is it possible to make education or work more exciting, by making the experience feel more like a game without compromising the effectiveness? Gamification, being the addition of game elements into non-game environments, has become a popular software trend. It has been criticized for its widespread implementation due to a lack of scientific evidence and thorough understanding of its inner workings. Studies on gamification have most often reported an overall increases in motiva- tion and engagement, while other studies have found that it can have a demotivating effect on part of the user group. The game-element that is most often linked to negative effects such as loss of performance is the leaderboard. To advance the discipline, we have set our focus on providing a deeper understanding of what aspects cause, influence and effect the gamification element leader- board and provide requirements and recommendations for implementing the leaderboard into an education context. Two studies were conducted for this purpose. The first study was a quantitative study (N=34) in which students competed in a knowledge quiz. Consequently each student re- ceived a score, and with that a rank in their group’s leaderboard. This part of the study ended with a reflection on their experience. The second part of the study consisted of two qualitative 1-hour focus group sessions (N=8), in which a more thorough understanding of the experience and the results was discussed. Seven factors that influence the leaderboard effect were identified, as well as five requirements when implementing the leaderboard in educational context. Our study shows an increase in motivation for some people, while simultaneously creating a less enjoyable learn- ing environment for others. This research presents an overview of what causes this motivation or demotivation to occur, as well as recommendations on how to design, implement and evaluate the leaderboard in educational contexts.