Student Motivation 101: There's an App for That

College students who used game-style app got higher marks and fewer dropped out of class, study finds

FRIDAY, Aug. 4, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- An app that uses familiar game elements could help college students get higher grades and keep them from dropping a course, a new study suggests.

The app includes game elements such as "leaderboards" and digital badges, and lets professors send course quizzes directly to students' electronic devices.

Researchers tested the app on 394 first-year accounting or science students at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, where it was developed. Professors tailored the app's content to their specific course.

On average, app users' marks were 7 percent higher than those who didn't use it, the findings showed. And 12 percent more students stayed in a course during the semester when the app was introduced, compared with the previous semester.

The study was published Aug. 3 in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education.

"Evidence-based research into student engagement tells us that well-engaged students are less likely to drop out. Our results imply that students are willing to use learning apps and that performing highly on the app may predict their future academic success," corresponding author Ekaterina Pechenkina said in a journal news release. She is a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

However, the app's novelty might have fueled its success, the study authors said, and use might decline over time.

And, because students could choose to use it or not, the study sample might have been biased. More conscientious students who were open to new experiences might have been more apt to try the app, the researchers added.

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SOURCE: International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, news release, Aug. 3, 2017

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