A mobile learning app that uses game elements such as leaderboards and digital badges may have positive effects on student academic performance, engagement, and retention, according to a study. Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia developed the fully customisable app that allowed lecturers to push quizzes based on course content directly to their students’ devices in order to motivate them, increase their competitiveness, and keep them engaged with the course.
As many as 394 students were recruited to test the app. They found a positive correlation between performing well on app tasks and achieving higher academic grades. App users on average achieved marks that were 7.03 per cent higher compared to students who chose not to use the app, researchers said.
When the app was first introduced in the 2nd semester of 2015, student retention improved by just over 12 per cent compared with the previous semester, they said. “Evidence-based research into student engagement tells us that well-engaged students are less likely to drop out,” said Ekaterina Pechenkina, corresponding author of the study
“Our results imply that students are willing to use learning apps and that performing highly on the app may predict their future academic success,” Pechenkina said. “We developed our app to achieve multiple goals, including improving engagement and measuring academic performance.
“In order to do that, we designed the app to include multiple-choice quizzes, push notifications, digital leaderboards and badges,” she said. To prompt students to test their knowledge of the concepts introduced during a course, the app delivered quizzes directly to the students’ mobile devices.
Push notifications alerted students each time a new quiz became available. Based on app engagement, various data was collected through the app’s analytics function, such as the speed at which students responded to quiz prompts and the number of attempts it took them to get an answer right.
For each correct answer, students were assigned points which were collected in a leaderboard. “At a time when students’ demand for personalised education is growing, mobile apps could allow students to access course material whenever they choose,” said Pechenkina. “Game elements like leaderboards and digital badges generate feedback, allowing students to see how they are performing compared to their peers,” she said
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