Gamification during Covid-19: Promoting active learning and motivation in higher education




gamification, game rewards, motivation, innovative education, academic confinement


Virtual teaching modalities urgently implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic require strategies to motivate students to participate actively in higher education. Our study found that gamification using a reward-based system is a strategy that can improve the educational experience under exceptional circumstances. This article reports the results of two gamified undergraduate courses (Calculus and Development of Transversal Competencies) designed with a reward system. The results derived from analyses of online surveys, the final grades, and their correlations revealed that gamification helped motivate students to participate actively and improved their academic performance, in a setting where the mode of instruction was remote, synchronous, and online. From the results we conclude that gamification favours the relationship between attention, participation, and performance, while promoting the humanisation of virtual environments created during academic confinement.

Implications for practice or policy:

  • Gamification using a reward-based system promoted active class participation and improved student performance after the transition from face-to-face to virtual instruction required as a result of the global pandemic.
  • Systemic recognition in a reward-based system improved the participants' emotional states, reducing their anxiety and the feeling of isolation caused by the pandemic, and leading to student engagement with .
  • Gamification works as an accompaniment for students to help the increasement of teacher-student and student-student interactions.


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Author Biography

Elvira G. Rincon-Flores, Tecnologico de Monterrey and GRoup of Interaction And e-Learning (GRIAL) Salamanca Universty

Elvira G. Rincón Flores holds a PhD in Education in the Knowledge Society at the University of Salamanca, Cum Laude thesis. Her research topic was Gamification based on challenges in massive open innovation environments in the area of energy sustainability. She has a master's degree in Finance and, another in Education with a Specialty in Mathematics, at the Tecnologico de Monterrey. She is a professor of this same University since 1993 in the Department of Engineering and Sciences, has published three books, two of them are used as a textbook in the same institution and has developed two chapters of books about Gamification. Also, she has several publications, both in journals and scientific conferences, many of them indexed in SCOPUS. Her public profiles are available at Research Gate ( and her ORCID is
Currently, she is the leader of two research projects: Adaptive based on predictive (Learning Analytics with AI) and Educational spaces in the Tec 21 model.




How to Cite

Rincon-Flores, E. G., & Santos-Guevara, B. N. (2021). Gamification during Covid-19: Promoting active learning and motivation in higher education. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 37(5), 43–60.



Special Issue 2021 - Emerging Technologies - Innovative Ped/Competency Develop