The Role of Creative Communications and Gamification in Student Engagement in Higher Education: A Sentiment Analysis Approach

 Journal of Creative Communications

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 research.


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