Enhancing Motivation To Learn In A Biology Laboratory Course Through Gaming A Design Case

Main Article Content

David C. Owens
Cindi Smith-Walters
Angela T. Barlow


In this design case, we describe our work to develop a gameful learning design for use in an introductory, undergraduate biology laboratory course for science majors. Our design team included three university-based mathematics and science educators and a biologist responsible for the management of curriculum and instruction in the course under study. The gameful learning design was employed during the four weeks of plant evolutionary life history instruction. Key challenges to the design and implementation of gameful learning included the adaptation of instruction from teacher-centered to student-centered and establishing novel learning conditions in the eight laboratory sections so as to determine the value of two different elements of game design, repeat-testing and leaderboard with badges.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Owens, D. C., Smith-Walters, C., & Barlow, A. T. (2019). Enhancing Motivation To Learn In A Biology Laboratory Course Through Gaming: A Design Case. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 10(1), 53–63. https://doi.org/10.14434/ijdl.v10i1.24111
Author Biographies

David C. Owens, Georgia Southern University

David C. Owens is Assistant Professor of Science Education at Georgia Southern University. His research is focused on understanding effective contexts for motivating student learning and developing scientific literacy, including socio-scientific issues and gameful learning.

Cindi Smith-Walters, Middle Tennessee State University

Cindi Smith-Walters is Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for Environmental Education at Middle Tennessee State University. Her research interests include the teaching and learning of science in formal and non-formal settings.

Angela T. Barlow, University of Central Arkansas

Angela T. Barlow is Dean of the Graduate School and Director of Sponsored Programs at the University of Central Arkansas. Her research interests include the instructional change process in mathematics classrooms.


Boling, E. (2010). The Need for Design Cases: Disseminating Design Knowledge. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 1, 1-8. doi: https://doi.org/10.14434/ijdl.v1i1.919

Deterding, S., Dixon, D., Khaled, R., & Nacke, L. (2011, September). From game design elements to gamefulness: defining gamification. In Proceedings of the 15th international academic MindTrek conference: Envisioning future media environments (pp. 9-15). ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2181037.2181040

Domínguez, A., Saenz-de-Navarrete, J., De-Marcos, L., FernandezSanz, L., Pages, C., & Martínez-Herraiz, J. J. (2013). Gamifying learning experiences: Practical implications and outcomes. Computers & Education, 63, 380-392. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.12.020

Dondlinger, M. J. (2007). Educational video game design: A review of the literature. Journal of Applied Educational Technology, 4, 21-31

Dweck, C. S. (1986). Motivational processes affect learning. American Psychologist, 41, 1040–1048. doi: https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.41.10.1040

Elliot, A. J. (2005). A conceptual history of the achievement goal construct. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation, 52–72. New York, NY: Guilford.

Gee, J. P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85, 33-37.

Lee, J., & Hammer, E. (2011). Gamification in education: What, how, why bother? Academic Exchange Quarterly, 15, 1–5

Owens, D. C. (2017). Issues with Tissues: A tale of gameful learning in an introductory undergraduate biology laboratory course. Journal of College Science Teaching. doi: https://doi.org/10.2505/4/jcst17_047_01_38

Owens, D. C. (2019). Overcoming the motivational barriers to understanding and accepting evolution through gameful learning. In U. Harms & M. J. Reiss (Eds.), Evolution Education Re-considered. New York: Springer.

Owens, D. C., Sadler, T. D., Barlow, A. T., & Smith-Walters, C. (2017). Student motivation from and resistance to active learning rooted in essential science practices. Research in Science Education, 1-25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-017-9688-1

Rideout, V. J., Foehr, U. G., & Roberts, D. F. (2010). Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8-to 18-year-olds. Menlo Park, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Senko, C., Hulleman, C. S., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2011). Achievement goal theory at the crossroads: Old controversies, current challenges, and new directions. Educational Psychologist, 46(1), 26-47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2011.538646

Smith, K. M. (2010). Producing the Rigorous Design Case. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 1, 9-20. doi: https://doi.org/10.14434/ijdl.v1i1.917

Squire, K. (2003). Video games in education. In International journal of intelligent simulations and gaming.

Squire, K. (2006). From content to context: Videogames as designed experience. Educational Researcher, 35, 19–29. doi: https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X035008019

Vodopich, D. S., & Moore, R. (2014). Biology laboratory manual (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.