The Role of Creative Communications and Gamification in Student Engagement in Higher Education: A Sentiment Analysis Approach
This article aims to understand the role of
gamification in student engagement in a higher education setting, following
recent calls for further research about the role of technology development on
stakeholders engagement and customer engagement. Student engagement may be
defined as behavioural and psychological involvement in learning activities.
The literature already addresses engaged students as an active part in the
process of searching, sharing and learning new skills and theories about a
topic, especially when using gamification tools in educational environments.
However, pieces of evidence about how the use of gamification can successfully
create engagement in participants of a service environment, such as higher
education service, are still scarce.
The academic discussion on the topic has focused the
attention on gamification as a way to increase attachment, to build co-creation
experiences, to foster the intention of engagement and brand attitude or to develop interaction and participation
at higher education environments. Contrariwise, several authors have discussed
the subversive ludification of society that gamification may represent. The adoption
and practice of game-based techniques or gamification in higher educational
environments may promote positive behaviour changes, leading to increased
motivation, relevance or immersion. However, gamification’s use as a tool to
leverage student engagement in services is still an under-explored topic.
This article adopts a quasi-experimental approach to
test the causal effects between an intervention and its outcome, aiming to
answer the following research question: Does gamification tools influence students’
engagement in services, such as higher education settings? Specifically, this
research aims to shed light on gamification’s implications in students’
engagement in higher education environments, analysing the data through a
sentiment analysis (SA) technique based on a text-mining approach. For that,
authors lay hands to stimulus-organism-response (SOR) theoretical framework.
This research shows gamification’s potential outside online environments and in
distinct practical application areas, collecting evidence of its positive
impact in service settings. The findings unveil that students understood the
experience as an educational element, and only after as entertainment. The
findings also show that our participants’ overall experience was positive or
very positive and that participants feel engaged by using gamification tools in
service settings such as educational environments.
The article’s contribution is twofold. First, the
findings add to the existing stakeholder and engagement literature, namely on
services and technology transformation topics. Second, the authors claim that
services, specifically higher education institutions (HEIs), can adopt new
technological approaches such as gamification to improve students’ service
(i.e., education). As far as authors are aware, this article is one of the
pioneers to further understand students’ engagement process through
technological tools such as gamification in an extended period (such as a
semester) in an actual/physical environment.
The remainder of this article is structured as
follows. The article reviews the relevant literature on gamification in
educational settings and student engagement in the next section. Next, the
authors present the research methodology and the results of our study. Finally,
we discuss the findings and this article’s theoretical and managerial
implications, along with research limitations and opportunities for further