When the Clock Strikes: Exploring On-the-hour Effects in Gamified Online Learning Systems
52 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2020 Last revised: 1 Sep 2021
Date Written: September 15, 2020
Users in online learning contexts are exposed to a variety of digital temptations and distractions, which grab their attention and lower their learning performance. This issue is more severe in gamified learning systems, in which gamification modules are introduced to enhance users’ short-term experiential outcomes. Therefore, it is important to explore which factors affect users’ learning behavior and help users improve their learning performance. This paper proposes that on-the-hour time points, as temporal cues, can substantially influence their interaction outcomes (the instrumental and experiential outcomes) with the core learning versus gamification modules. Through a series of four multi-method studies that focus on the effects of on-the-hour time points, we find that i) beginning the use of core learning modules at on-the-hour time points activates users’ implemental mindset, which supports them in building a longer learning persistence and achieving better learning performance; ii) beginning the use of gamification modules at on-the-hour time points activates users’ deliberative mindset and then results in a lower level of perceived enjoyment and flow experience than beginning at other time points; and iii) increased social presence significantly mitigates the on-the-hour effects, particularly when users are performing learning tasks. Our findings add to the design of online learning systems by understanding the effects of temporal cues in user-system interactions of gamified learning systems, on the basis of which notification and reminder systems can be implemented to further facilitate the effectiveness of online learning.
Keywords: online learning systems; gamification; temporal cues; learning effectiveness
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