Where’s the research?

I spent way too much time this week searching for the perfect article.   I am still interested in digging into gamification and discovering the best game elements to choose, and the best ways to incorporate those elements into an eCampus design.   I have been excited about “fun theory’ in the past so I began my search looking there.   Unfortunately, though I found a lot of opinions I was not able to find any actual research on the subject.   I’m sure some exists somewhere, I just had no luck in finding it!   Next I looked a game elements and motivation and a few other things and finally settled on this article that looks at three different motivational theories and suggests ways to incorporate their principles into eCampus design.

Gutierrez (2014) first suggests that keeping one eye on motivation during the design phase of an eCampus course will positively effect learner outcomes.   She briefly introduces three theories of motivation; Flow Theory, Self-Determination Theory, and Path-Goal Theory.   After each introduction she list three or four elements that could be incorporated into eCampus design that would address the theory, such as “State Clear Objectives’ and “Provide Consistency’.

The piece was well written and well organized but I found myself wanting a little more substance in the description of each theory and did not feel that a clear connection was made as to how the design elements suggested satisfied the motivational mechanisms of the theory.   For instance the 2 elements above (State Clear Objectives’ and “Provide Consistency’) were provided as examples of Flow Theory.   Granted, I didn’t get an in-depth look at Flow Theory, but from what I did get, neither of those two elements are an obvious fit.

That being said, I do feel like a got what I came for with this article, in that I hadn’t really ever heard of Path-Goal Theory or Self-Determination Theory.   And I did hear enough about both of these theories to know that I am interested in exploring them further.   Especially Self-Determination Theory which, it turns out,   suggest three goals for the designer to inspire intrinsic motivation in the learner: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Now that does make sense to me and I would like know read get a little closer to the source of that one.   I guess that will be a subject for another review!

Gutierrez, K. (2014). Designing for motivation: Three theories eCampus designers can use.
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2 thoughts on “Where’s the research?

  1. Hi Kim,

    I’d suggest some background on play as that is, I believe, at the heart of gamification. Here’s a couple of background articles on the subject relative to play being at the core of our nature.


    Nice review – I wonder if you found these theoretical frameworks actionable? Can you take one with you and apply it directly to course design, or are they more descriptive of categories of design schemes?


  2. “Flow theory” “Fun theory” “Path-Goal Theory” “Self-Determination Theory”

    Wow! There’s so much here that I’ve never heard of. It seems overwhelming. I’m not surprised that the article didn’t go into a lot of depth defining these things and didn’t get specific…have you looked at elements of good game design? Like, outside of an educational context? I bet you’d find some interesting things there that’d be easy to apply to education instead of looking for educators and academics trying to formalize everything with theory names 🙂

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