Using gamification to support learning in K-12 education: A systematic literature review

Hojjat Dehghanzadeh, Mohammadreza Farrokhnia, Hossein Dehghanzadeh*, Kiumars Taghipour, Omid Noroozi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Using gamification to support learning in K-12 education has received much attention from scholars in recent years. However, there is still a lack of comprehensive understanding of how gamification should be used to effectively enhance the learning experiences of K-12 students. The purpose of this review was to synthesize research findings on the use of gamification in K-12 education and to propose an evidence-informed framework. This framework will guide teachers and scholars in developing gamified learning environments that are effective in improving K-12 students' learning. In this regard, 54 empirical studies (out of 907 peer-reviewed articles), dating from 2008 through 2021, were reviewed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guideline. The findings were systematically categorized into four essential dimensions of learning environments inspired by Biggs' 3P teaching and learning model, ie, ‘individual factors’, ‘environmental factors’, ‘learning process’ and ‘learning outcome’. The review yielded rich findings concerning each dimension, providing K-12 teachers and scholars with a comprehensive overview of research findings on using gamification for educational purposes. Meanwhile, the findings indicated the lack of empirical studies regarding constructively aligned gamified courses, in which the different dimensions of the adopted framework are implemented and evaluated coherently. The paper concludes by presenting several suggestions and directions for future research to address this shortcoming. Practitioner notes What is already known about this topic Gamification has demonstrated the potential to enhance learning outcomes in K-12 education. There are instances where the findings suggest neutral or negative effects of gamification on students' learning outcomes. There is a lack of a comprehensive overview of empirical findings concerning the effectiveness of gamification in K-12 education. What this paper adds The study highlights the potential of gamification in enhancing cognitive, affective and behavioural learning outcomes in K-12 education, mainly by increasing motivation, engagement and competitiveness. The study provides a comprehensive overview of empirical studies on using gamification in K-12 education. The study proposes an evidence-informed framework that can serve as a blueprint for developing constructively aligned gamified learning environments for K-12 education. Implications for practice and/or policy The study presents several up-to-date and empirically rooted calls for future research on using gamification in K-12 education. The study makes evidence-based recommendations for the effective integration of gamification in K-12 education.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages37
JournalBritish journal of educational technology
Early online date8 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 8 May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • K-12 education
  • Gamification
  • Learning outcomes
  • Systematic review
  • n/a OA procedure
  • NLA


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