Gamification to foster self-learning competence

While self-regulated learning has been researched for some time by scientist following a constructivist world view (Euler 2009, S. 35; Götze 2010, S. 22; Rebel 2008, S. 108), the interest of enterprises in this topic seems to increase. In one of the biggest financial institute in Switzerland the entire learning architecture has been restructured in order to increase self-regulated learning of the employees. Thereby, one pivotal challenge showed: An adequate environment for self-regulated learning is merely a necessary condition. If the learners do not use the available (new) tools, there is no gain for competence development. A learning environment that facilitates self-regulated learning is therefore the first step. However, learning culture only changes if learners internalize those new learning habits into the (collective) behavioral patterns (Krapf 2016b).

Self-learning competence as an enabler of self-regulated learning

The difficult part is to enable such an internalization of (new) learning patterns. Self-learning competence seems one of the most crucial element to ensure self-regulated learning, because an action (self-regulated learning) cannot be conducted without a corresponding competence (self-learning competence) (Euler/Hahn 2007, S. 21). An interesting approach in this regard is proposed by Preisig (2016), who explored the impact of Gamification to the competence of self-regulated learning. One of the major insight of the empirical study has been, that the motivation of the students has decreased with the implemented Gamification whereas other sub-constructs of self-learning competence such as “endurance”, “effort” and “time management” increased (Preisig 2016, I). However, it cannot be concluded with this study that Gamification automatically leads to a decrease of motivation. There are various applications of Gamification and different contexts. The development of a gamified learning design is very complex. If a design does not work, it might not be the concept of gamification per se that is causing the failure. The results of Preisig (2016) are therefore more a warning signal that Gamification does not automatically make everything better (Burke, 2014, S. 30 zit. in. Krapf 2016a, S. 28).

„House of Gamification“ as a framework for adequate Gamification

An appropriate application of gamification ensures that the intrinsic motivation is not undermined. Only then, it can unfolds its true potential for business contexts. Thereby, the biggest pitfall of Gamification is its notoriously but wrongfully reduction into the three game elements “Points, Badges and Leaderboards” (PBL). If Gamification is solely based on PBL the application most often only triggers unsustainable extrinsic motivation (Krapf 2016a, S. 45). The „House of Gamification“ (see exhibition 1)  can support the design of a gamified application that essentially addresses intrinsic motivation (Krapf 2016a, S. 34; Seufert u.a. 2017, S. 44).


Exhibition 1: House of Gamification (Krapf, 2016, S. 34)


Motivation as core element

The first design area of the „House of Gamification“ addresses the motivation directly. The application has to foster the intrinsic motivation. Research shows that there are four pivotal aspects to this cause: social relatedness, autonomy, purpose, mastery (Deci/Ryan 1985; Pink 2009).


Exhibition 2: Motivation as core element (Krapf, 2016, S. 36)


Process Design as fundament

In order to implement the game elements for intrinsic motivation properly, the process has to be design accordingly. Thereby, several levels are to consider: The organizational change process as a whole, the underlining individual process of behavioral change (usage) or the various learning processes that makes an individual able to change (Hall/Hord 2015; Lewin 1963; Roth 1971)


Exhibition 3: Process Design as fundament (Krapf, 2016, S. 38)


Feedback as supporting pillar

The learning potential is shown in the difference between the expected and the observed behavior. Feedback can help to make such discrepancies tangible. Furthermore, feedback makes expectations and learning outcomes explicit whereby individuals get an orientation for self-reflection and self-regulated learning  (Bauer-Klebl/Raatz 2013, S. 151). Learning processes and learning success can also be acknowledged through feedback which enhances intrinsic motivation (see above).


Exhibition 4: Feedback as supporting pillar (Krapf, 2016, S. 40)


Reflection as supporting pillar

 Reflection is the fundament to turn the perception of information into learning. Only if information or experiences are abstracted through reflection it is possible to transfer learnings flexibly into new action fields (Siebert 2003, S. 80). Thereby, the experience based learning cycle of Kolb (1984) can serve as an orientation.


Exhibition 5: Reflection as supporting pillar (Krapf, 2016, S. 42)


Storytelling as roof

Storytelling can be seen as the integrative element in order to ensure a coherent application of gamification. Without storytelling there is a heightened risk that the application is a loose conglomerate of game elements which do not trigger intrinsic motivation. Thereby, a compelling storyline is not only motivating on its own. It also assures that the applied game elements empathize the underlining purpose. Hence, the elements and the application as a whole won’t be perceived as something odd within the (working) process.


Exhibition 6: Storytelling als Dach (Krapf, 2016, S. 43)



Adequate conditions within a company are not enough for employees to establish a new self-regulated learning pattern. They especially need the corresponding competences as well.  Gamification can be a mean to foster such competences. However, Gamification has a heightened risk of focusing on rather extrinsic incentives such as points, badges or leaderboards (PBL). Applications with such a focus tend to be even demotivating in the long run. The „House of Gamification“ can serve as a framework to design an application which supports self-regulated learning. Thereby, it does not stipulate how the design of the gamification needs to look like in detail. It is rather an orientation which design aspects should be considered and which game elements can be used for which purpose. It has to be considered that the framework makes no direct statement if an application of Gamification is appropriate in a specific case. It rather offers a structure to design a holistic and intrinsic motivating application. Therefore, it has to be carefully reflected if Gamification serves the purpose at hand. An approach to this challenge and more details about the „House of Gamification“ can be found here.


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