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Exploring the Impact of ‘Gamified’ Online Language Practice on Student Motivation

‘Gamifying’ online language learning to engage learners is by no means a new concept, but the ability for non-programmers to develop such online learning modules and integrate custom language and content is becoming increasingly possible due to the availability of online authoring tools. This presentation will describe a smaller research project which is part of a larger long-term investigation into the link between learner motivation and the type of language tasks they are required to perform: it focuses specifically on using gaming elements as a way of promoting more active and volitional forms of student motivation, thus increasing the likelihood of independent study outside the classroom. This is of particular importance in the field of teaching and learning less commonly taught languages: anecdotal evidence suggests that student perceptions of how demanding it is to learn a language may negatively affect their learning and the maintenance of their acquired language proficiency beyond the course of formal study. This particular study investigated the impact of gamified online tasks on motivation of students learning Afghan languages and culture at a US university.

The intention of the research project was to 1) learn about the process of developing ‘gamified’ and ‘personalized’ online language learning content and, 2) measure student engagement through quiz results and post-activity motivation questionnaires. Results from the experimental group are compared to a control group who had access to a version of the online language activity that didn’t contain ‘gamified’ and ‘personalized’ interactions.

The first part of this presentation will describe the purpose of theresearch, the process of creating the online activity using the e-learning authoring tool Articulate Storyline, how principles of ‘gamification’ and ‘personalization’ were applied, and demonstrate the ‘gamified’ and ‘non-gamified’ activity used. The second part of the presentation will describe the population of students involved in the research, how and where the activity was administered to students, and the tools used to gather data. The final part of the presentation will be devoted to discussing the impact on students’ affective response to curriculum and actual time on task when curriculum is ‘gamified/personalized’ and when it is not, and implications for prospective future projects.

Attendees will learn about ‘gamifying’ online curriculum and how it can influence time on task, student motivation, and proficiency. Presenter will show specific examples of the activity and research and make all information shareable. Attendees will take away information on e-learning authoring tools for creating online language practice curriculum.


Nadezda Novakovic    
Language Acquisition Resource Center
San Diego State University
United States

Nadezda Novakovic is the Senior Researcher at Language Acquisition Resource Center at San Diego State University. Her research focuses primarily on language testing and assessment, and innovative methods of testing language proficiency in less commonly taught languages. She is also actively involved in teacher-training workshops and is currently involved in the development of the Lesson Plan Generator, a free online tool for developing effective lessons plans.

Evan Rubin    
Language Acquisition Resource Center
San Diego State University
United States

Evan Rubin is the director of instructional technology and design at Language Acquisition Resource Center at San Diego State University, and the facilitator of the summer social media workshop. He is currently supporting the RICL Online Pashtu Culture Course, technology and teacher training workshops, and the development of the Social Media Research Portal.


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