When the Clock Strikes: Exploring the Mindset Effects of Temporal Cues in Gamified Online Learning Systems
45 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2020 Last revised: 7 Nov 2020
Date Written: September 15, 2020
Gamification has been widely employed in online learning systems to enhance users’ gratification and to retain them from dropping out. Compared with core learning modules, gamification modules provide more hedonic value, which increases user engagement in the short term but these modules may also cause distraction and impede learning performance. Thus, time management and self-control are crucial for users of online learning systems. Our study proposes that users tend to treat on-the-hour time points (i.e., the strike of the traditional clock) as temporal cues, which substantially influence their interactions with the core learning versus gamification modules, as well as both the instrumental and experiential outcomes of these interactions. Through a set of three multi-method studies that focus on the sharp clock-striking time points, we find that i) users are more (versus less) likely to begin using core learning modules (versus gamification modules) after clock-striking time points; ii) beginning the use of core learning modules at clock-striking time points has a positive relationship with learning persistence and learning performance; iii) beginning the use of gamification modules at clock-striking time points results in a lower level of perceived enjoyment than beginning at random time points. Further, the results of studies 2 and 3 indicate that clock-striking time points can activate users’ implemental mindset, which supports them in building a longer learning persistence and achieving better learning performance. Our findings add to the design of online learning systems by understanding the mindset effects of temporal cues in user-system interactions of gamified learning systems, based on 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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