Thursday, June 22, 2023

From Practice to Academia and Back to Practice: A Portrait of Key Research Papers on Gamification in Education and Training

From May to September this year, I have given numerous presentations on "Techniques for Online Teaching." During the Q&A sessions, a teacher once asked, "How were you able to quickly grasp the essentials and develop effective techniques for online teaching? Especially incorporating gamification methods to make the entire course engaging and exciting. How did you come up with that?"

After listening to the question, I responded, "Apart from my existing knowledge of teaching techniques, it was because I previously conducted a practice-oriented research study, which provided insights into the key factors for successful gamified teaching!"

Indeed, the recently accepted paper in an SCI journal, titled "The Key Elements of Gamification in Corporate Training - The Delphi Method" (click here to view the Chinese translation version), is a solid piece of work that involved interviews with 14 renowned instructors in the field of corporate education and training. Through the expert interactive evaluation research method known as the Delphi method, we were able to identify the critical elements for gamified teaching.

Having completed this research, I was able to immediately identify the key aspects when initially conceptualizing the course. I pondered on how to maintain team-based competition in the online environment (grouping, scoring, leaderboards, prizes), how to provide real-time feedback (using pen-and-paper scorekeeping, verbal reinforcement), and how to gradually increase the level of challenge (through different teaching methods and pacing). Most importantly, I always kept in mind the connection between course objectives and the gamification process, so that participants not only had fun but also learned various instructional techniques along the way.

This academic journal article on "Gamified Corporate Teaching" (or "Gamification in Corporate Education") went through a two-year process of revisions and iterations (there were even moments when I considered giving up), and finally, it was accepted by the SCI journal Entertainment Computing! Although the journal's ranking is not in the top 25% (it is ranked Q2 within the field), I had initially hoped for a faster review process... I never expected it to take nearly two years! When it was approved in early October, I was genuinely thrilled and wanted to scream with joy!

Why doing Research of “Techniques of Teaching”?

From past decade, we have used several elements of gamification into corporate training course, such as points, benefits and leaderboard. I’ve been written several articles of “Techniques of Teaching”. For example, I’ve wrote “How to Inspire Participation and Motivation through Gamification (Part 1)” (link:, , How PBL elements-points, benefits and leaderboard used in a course (link:, , Techniques of Teaching: Course Opening Technique 3: Team Motivation and Grouping Techniques (link: etc. I even make a video “Techniques of Teaching-Online Course” in 2020 on YouTube (Have you seen it?).

However, I’m sometime curious that how are these method of teaching being applicated by other teachers? How did different lectures design these elements in different course? Which of these elements are the most important? Which can be neglect temporary?  

From these curious, I start this two-years long period of research and submit for publication.

Invitation to Gamification Experts

I wanted to understand how experts in the field of corporate education and training perceive gamification. To achieve this, I employed the "Delphi method," which essentially involves conducting interviews with experts to understand how they implement gamification and identifying the operational elements of gamification. Then, through multiple rounds of expert evaluation, I asked them to rank the importance of each factor according to their own perspective. I compiled their answers (ranking of importance) and presented them to the experts. They could then consider the consensus answers from others and decide if they wanted to revise their own opinions. This iterative process allowed us to obtain an overall consensus on the key elements from the experts. Finally, I conducted additional interviews to see if the experts had any additional insights to contribute. This method, the Delphi method, has been previously used for evaluating war strategies, long-term development trends, medical treatment methods, and more. It allows for independent expert judgment while considering the collective opinion to reach a consensus. This combination of qualitative (interview opinions) and quantitative (indicator evaluation) aspects is a research method that I personally appreciate. (The above is a simplified explanation of the research method. If you're interested, you can check out the academic version later...ha!)

However, the key challenge of this method lies in creating the expert panel!

Because to have remarkable consensus and obtain outstanding results, you need exceptional experts! The difficulty with this research method in the past has been that experts in the field are extremely busy and difficult to schedule. Just imagine: if an ordinary researcher writes a letter to a guru, inviting them to participate in a study that involves multiple iterations, interviews, questionnaires, and constant likely do you think the experts would be willing to accept the invitation?

Top Gamification Experts in Corporate Training

Fortunately, I have been able to build good relationships with many experts in the field of gamified corporate education and training. Good buddies like Adam, MJ, and Hsien are definitely on the list. Additionally, I reached out to my lecturer friends, management consulting contacts, and HR professionals for recommendations. Finally, I invited several teachers. Each of these teachers is a guru in their respective field and is usually quite busy. However, when they heard about my research on gamification in education, each one expressed their willingness to assist. They participated in multiple rounds of questionnaires and interviews with me, generously sharing their gamification know-how in corporate education and training. Their generosity and openness truly impressed me! I would like to express my gratitude once again!

The key of success to Gamification

For the detailed research and gamification-related literature (Gamification Reference), I'll leave it for you to explore in the academic version of the paper. The original submission was in English (thanks to my wife JJ for recommending an excellent English translator and editor, Jen, email: In order to make this research, which is based on practicality and highly relevant to the teaching field, more accessible to everyone, I also paid for open access publication rights (Gold Open Access, $2500). I made the Chinese version of this gamified learning research publicly available, so that educators in Taiwan can easily understand and even apply these key elements of gamified instruction. This includes the six principles of gamification mechanisms and the two major elements of gamification.

The Six Principles of Gamified Instruction and Expert Opinions

1. Integration with Learning Objectives: Experts state, "Games are a means, not an end," and "Gamification must be relevant to the instructional topic and not simply for the sake of gamification."

2. Immediate Feedback: Experts recommend, "Immediate feedback is crucial," and "Rewarding answers reinforces learners' familiarity and acceptance of the scoring rules."

3. Team Competition: Experts' experiences demonstrate that "competition can stimulate learners' engagement and focus, especially in team competitions," and "healthy competition among team members creates a positive, self-driven team dynamic."

4. Clear and Fair Game Rules: Experts believe in "game rules that are easily understood" and emphasize that "when fairness in the game is compromised, participants are more likely to give up."

5. Gradually Increasing Challenge Difficulty: Experts approach this by "presenting learners with challenges and encouraging them to find solutions within a time limit," and they emphasize the importance of "having levels in gamification, progressing from easy to difficult... effective time control through course design, adjusting difficulty, and explaining rules."

6. Failure-free Experiential Activities: Experts state that gamification allows learners to experience the journey from non-cooperation to cooperation and that "providing learners the freedom to experiment in a relatively safe environment is crucial... so that even if they answer incorrectly, they do not feel embarrassed."

In addition to the six gamification design principles, there are two key gamification elements that are crucial in instructional gamification:

1. Point System: Learners earn different points when they achieve expected performance, such as answering questions, participating in discussions, or solving challenging problems. The encouragement is not only for being correct but also for active participation.

2. Leaderboards: By utilizing a leaderboard mechanism, learners' scores in learning groups are displayed, allowing them to see their own progress and compare it with their peers. This motivates them and encourages greater effort.


The above principles are a synthesis of previous academic research and expert practices, refined through multiple rounds of expert evaluations. To accurately represent the experts' original intentions, we conducted several interviews and excerpted their statements. Further details and data from the evaluation process can be found in the research paper. Additional academic papers, both in English and Chinese translations, have been completed, and the article concludes with an APA-formatted list of gamification references (Gamification Reference). We invite those interested in gamification and gamified instruction to explore other gamification research for more creativity and ideas.

It is my hope that this study on the key elements of instructional gamification can truly bridge the gap between practice and academia, benefiting the practical implementation of gamification in teaching (enabling educators to design better, more engaging, attention-captivating, and effective courses). It also aims to assist future researchers in further exploring gamification, such as gamification, gamification of teaching and training, gamification of learning, gamification in education, and even understanding the Delphi method, to expand the scope of practical research. This way, the time invested in these studies can maximize their impact and benefits.

Note 1: Special thanks to Professor Fang Guo-Ding for his guidance. We had numerous discussions and deliberations to reach a consensus and refine the research details. Thank you, Professor Fang, for your patience and support despite your busy schedule (you are much busier than me in normal academic matters XD), always being there for me.

Note 2: Thank you to co-author Hsu Ya-Fang. Without your assistance in organizing the data, I would have struggled for a long time to meet the formatting requirements for citations and references, as I am not skilled in such tasks.

Note 3: A heartfelt thank you to the highly professional English translation and editing consultant, Jen. Your expertise in crafting English articles accurately conveys my intended meaning and makes it even more remarkable! I highly recommend this level of professional English consulting! (Recommended by Fu-Ge for high-quality work, contact email: Also, thank you, my dear wife JJ, for recommending Jen.)

Note 4: Thanks to the support from my wife JJ and our children. Writing a thesis while juggling a demanding job often leads to high levels of stress and poor mood. I appreciate my wife's understanding of my temperament and the sweet companionship of our children.

Note 5: Thank you to myself for never giving up! At times, I couldn't see the end of the process, and my spirits were extremely low... But I gritted my teeth, determined not to quit, and focused on finding solutions, even creating a Plan B and a Plan C for research. In the end, I made it! I'm so happy!

# So, are you also using gamification in your teaching? Feel free to share your experiences with me!


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