Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Lucas Lima de Vasconcelos


The purpose of this action research was to evaluate flight students’ perceptions of a reward-based gamification intervention for their motivation to study outside the classroom while attending the Initial Entry Rotary Wing (IERW) flight school in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has an ever-increasing population with a diverse number of teachers from all over the world teaching curricula not suited to Saudi Arabians; thus, the Kingdom is striving to improve its education system to motivate its students. The most popular way of enhancing the education system is by empowering and inspiring students to perform better. The Saudi Arabian Ministry of National Guard IERW flight school students’ motivators are different than U.S. military students which creates problems when teaching U.S. military designed curricula. This study was guided by two research questions (1) What are the students’ perceptions of the influence of gamification on their motivation? (2) What are the IERW students’ perceptions of the influence of gamification on their performance (learning)? These research questions guided the study:

Study participants joined gamified activities to earn points that they could turn into rewards. Flight school classes consist of six to eight primarily Arabic-speaking students. A predominantly qualitative mixed methods approach was used to seek students’ perceptions while using gamification as an intervention. Semi-structured interviews and Flipgrid videos served as qualitative data sources to elicit students’ thoughts and feelings about how their motivation was perceived. A Weekly Motivation Perception Survey and the Situational Motivation Scale Survey served as quantitative data to regularly measure students’ perceptions. Qualitative data were analyzed using an inductive and thematic approach. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and a Friedman test.

The qualitative findings revealed three different themes: (1) students perceive that gamification is relevant for increasing their motivation, (2) participants perceive motivation within the gamification design architecture that can be improved, and (3) gamification helps students develop learning strategies, which in turn leads to enhanced test performance. The quantitative findings indicated that a perceived motivation increase occurred over weeks one through three, and a motivational decline occurred from weeks four through six. This study has implications for using gamified learning systems in teaching military students. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.