The Science Behind Gamified Assessments


Gamified assessments are becoming increasingly popular for assessing skills, knowledge, and abilities in a fun and engaging way. These assessments use game-like elements, such as points, badges, and leaderboards, to motivate and challenge users. But what is the science behind gamified assessments, and how do they differ from traditional assessments?

The psychology of motivation:

Gamification is adding game elements to non-game contexts to increase engagement and motivation. According to self-determination theory, an individual’s motivation can be classified into three types: autonomous, controlled and motivated. Autonomous motivation is driven by an individual’s interest and enjoyment, whereas controlled motivation is driven by external factors such as rewards or punishment. Motivated individuals lack motivation altogether. Gamification in assessments can be used to increase autonomous motivation by providing a sense of challenge, progress, and accomplishment.

The neuroscience of learning:

Gamification in assessments can also enhance the learning process by engaging the brain’s reward systems. Research has shown that when individuals experience a sense of accomplishment and progress in a game-like environment, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This release of dopamine can enhance learning and memory retention. Additionally, using game elements such as points and badges can provide a sense of immediate feedback and recognition, which can help improve motivation and engagement.

The impact of game elements:

Gamified assessments often include elements such as points, badges, and leaderboards. These elements are designed to provide a sense of progress, accomplishment, and competition. Points can be used to track progress and allow the individual to see how they are doing about a set of objectives or goals. Badges are used to recognize achievements and accomplishments, which can provide a sense of satisfaction and pride. Leaderboards allow individuals to compare their performance to others and can be used to create a sense of competition. These elements are designed to enhance motivation and engagement in the assessment process.

However, it’s important to note that gamification in assessment should be balanced. If the game elements are too distracting, it may negatively impact the assessment process. Additionally, the use of game elements should be considered in terms of the assessment type, the population being assessed, and the purpose of the assessment.