Is It Worth Using Gamification on Software Testing Education? An Extended Experience Report in the Context of Undergraduate Students
Context: Testing is fundamental in the software development process. Nevertheless, testing education faces the key challenge of ensuring that undergraduate students acquire knowledge and skills they need for their future careers by matching what is taught in the classroom to industry standards. In this context, gamification can be used as an alternative educational approach. It uses game elements in real-world contexts in order to increase people's motivation and engagement in tasks that require external stimuli, especially in educational contexts.
Objective: Reporting on results of an experimental study designed to assess the impact of gamification on software testing education, as well as reporting on the experience of building a supporting gamified platform.
Method: We performed a systematic literature mapping aiming at characterizing how gamification has been explored in the software testing context. In addition, some of the problems faced by testing education were identified through an ad-hoc search. Then, we developed a gamified approach and a platform that have been used to run five 4-hour functional testing classes with undergraduate students from four Brazilian institutions of higher education.
Results: Overall, students who learned with the traditional approach felt more motivated than those who learned with the gamified approach, whereas the performance of both groups were similar. On the other hand, feedback questionnaires indicated that the gamified class was more attractive (in terms of attention) and funny. Moreover, we observed that building a gamified platform is complex and challenging, particularly for the definition of the game mechanics and dynamics.
Conclusion: Even though the results in terms of students' performance was neutral, and the motivation of students did not increase due to the introduction of gamification, the experience of having used this alternative approach is considered positive, as it provided a more enjoyable and funny environment, both from the researcher's and students' point of view. Furthermore, with this experience we foresee we can do better in terms of gamified teaching in future work.
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