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Gamification in Computer Science Education: a Systematic Literature Review

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Software Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Division

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Paper Authors


Mourya Reddy Narasareddy Gari North Dakota State University

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Mourya Reddy works as Research Assistant at the Department of Computer Science, North Dakota State University. Mourya's primary research focus is on student learning.

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Gursimran Singh Walia

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Gursimran S. Walia is an associate professor of Computer Science at North Dakota State University. His main research interests include empirical software engineering, software engineering education, human factors in software engineering, and software quality. He is a member of the IEEE Computer Society. Contact him at

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Alex David Radermacher North Dakota State University

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Games are part of our everyday life, engaging users, at the same time modeling the actions. Gamification refers to the application of game design elements in non-gaming environments, which helps in improving user engagement and also aims in amplifying the procedures instituted and the experience of those included. The world of education practice is changing. The way of education and its management is converting from systems of record to systems of engagement and motivation. In recent past, gamification has become a buzzword in the field of education and training, because of its apparent potential to make learning more motivating, engaging and exciting. Numerous educators have endeavored, with varying degrees of achievement, to efficiently apply game elements to increase student motivation and accomplishment in the classroom. In this paper, we have made an attempt to identify several game design elements that have been used in education, which had positive effect and helped in improving the engagement of students. We have combined the literature on gamification in Computer Science and Software Engineering courses by conducting a comprehensive Systematic literature review (similar to the way medicine performs their reviews) on gamification in the respective educational courses. The major aim of this paper is to identify the game design elements that has shown improvement in student’s engagement, and learn how to implement them in our software testing cyber learning environment entitled- WReSTT (Web-Based Repository of Software Testing Tutorials – a Cyberlearning Environment), so that they could help in improving the design of WReSTT. WReSTT is a Cyber-Learning environment, which tries to provide students and instructors a guided access to the Learning Objects in the area of testing. WReSTT provides students several Learning resources such as tutorials, quizzes, videos etc., which helps them to learn about the testing topics and tools and be able to utilize and apply the testing techniques. This paper reports the results of literature review of the papers that collected, analyzed and classified according to several inclusion and exclusion criteria (e.g., including the papers that have empirical evidence, applicable to CS/SE courses, that talk about gamification but not designing game, focused on student learning). We searched for papers from databases (e.g., ACM Digital Library, IEEE Xplore, ProQuest, and Web of Science); searched individual CS/SE educational journal and conferences and the reference lists of primary studies. The initial search resulted in 5450 papers which were then filtered by reading abstracts and then full papers. Information from the final list of primary papers were extracted using data extraction form to reduce any researcher bias and to ensure consistency across studies. Based on our review, we identified several game design elements that can be used in CS/SE education based on their reported benefit on student learning. The identified game design elements include Points, Badges, Leader Boards, Avatars, Story Lines, Visualizations, Progress Bars, Punishments, Levels, Challenges, Feedback, and Phrases. While most of these elements had positive effect on student learning, multiple studies reported that when the maximum gains are achieved only when these elements are perceived in a competitive nature by students and when they understood game design concepts. The paper illustrates the current state of research on the topic and also provides an insight on improving the instructional design of WReSTT (it currently incorporates some of the gamification features) by amending the design of it by introducing new game elements to improve student engagement and learning in introductory computer programming courses.

Narasareddy Gari, M. R., & Walia, G. S., & Radermacher, A. D. (2018, June), Gamification in Computer Science Education: a Systematic Literature Review Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30554

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