Badges and Leaderboards: Understanding Their Effectiveness on Academic Performance and Motivation of Online Students
Abstract: Implementing game design elements into learning contexts, or gamification, has become popular in online education as a means to enhance student success and motivation. Badges (digital credentials) and leaderboards (digital rankings) are the most commonly used gamification elements. However, the findings on the effectiveness of badges and leaderboards are mixed. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of badges and leaderboards on student motivation and academic performance. Participants (N=88) from an online course were randomly assigned into four groups: badges-only, leaderboards-only, badges with leaderboards, and a control (no badges or leaderboards). Academic performance of students was measured by their grades and their motivation was measured by a self-report motivation survey. The results show that badges and leaderboards were similar in terms of effectiveness; however, neither improved student performance compared to the control group. Nevertheless, the motivation survey revealed that most students approached positively to badges and leaderboards.