Abstract: The application of game principles to nongame contexts has proven to be a powerful pedagogical strategy in the educational area to motivate, engage, and improve learners' performance. In this study, gamification is applied to increase the time and the effort that learners spend in carrying out outside-class activities, as well as to modify a quite common study pattern of working at the last minute, that is, near exams or deadlines. Our aim was to motivate students to work weekly on the contents of the subject by carrying out practical exercises that led to a deeper knowledge acquisition, development of skills, and the achievement of the learning outcomes gathered in the subject teaching guide. We describe here the gamification strategies applied to two tertiary
database courses in two consecutive academic years, following, in one case, a ranking-based strategy, that is, achieving points by performing different activities; and, in the other one, a strategy based on earning badges and experience points. Next, we analyze the student log activity data along with deadlines and exam information, to assess at what extent gamification helped fulfill our goal. Likewise, we discuss the results of an anonymous survey carried out at the end of the semester to gather the students' opinion. We can conclude that the gamification activities are well appreciated by the learners, especially those that take little time to complete and can be repeated many times to prepare their final exams.
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