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Gamification as a tool for developing critical thinking among ICT students at a tertiary institution in South Africa
Mposula, Ntombifikile Fortunate
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The recent generation of students, often referred to as ‘Millennials’, are generally familiar with computer games and therefore learn mostly through virtual experiences from game playing. A high failure rate due to the lack of critical thinking (CT) skills among tertiary students still persists, despite the implementation of CT enhancing programmes and frameworks. The aim of this research was to explore the effect of gamification on the critical thinking skills of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) students. A single pre-and post-quasi-experimental research strategy with a pragmatic perspective research approach was followed. Mixed methods research with self-administered semi-structured questionnaires and interviews was employed. In total, 182 questionnaires distributed to students were analysed pre- and post-intervention, and five (5) interviews were conducted with the relevant lecturers post-intervention. The data were summarised and categorised by applying thematic analysis. All participants volunteered to be part of the study, and they were informed of the confidentiality and anonymity of the research before partaking in the study. From the inductive study results, it was found that CT is already an integral part of the subject content being taught to the students. The experimental learning environment did not result in significant domain-general CT compared to the control environment. Judgement was the only CT skills element showing a significant improvement from pre- to post-results on the respondents’ overall CT. Gamification can be an effectual instrument to enhance CT skills, as it enables the retention of knowledge through play by motivating and stimulating inquisitiveness among students.